Expat Marriages Suck

As is my wont, I had a pretty fabulous weekend. On Friday night we went with our Expaterati gang, boyses and girlses, to Potato Head to catch some awesome reggae grooves on their roof terrace. Afterwards the more staminatic among us, moi included of course (but not Don and a few others), dashed to Zouk for further party-age.

Saturday, I had a lovely long chillax at home, followed by a massage and some detox reflexology. Then Eva kicked my butt into shape before my hair appointment, and later I hit the town again, starting at the Tippling Club for a gorgeous meal with my girlies. (Don had work to do, so he stayed at home.)

Yesterday we had a repeat of an average Sunday avo hanging with my Expaterati crew at the Tanjong Beach Club. I returned home early evening, tired but happy, to find Don staring into his laptop, his face lit up by the glow of the screen in the dark living room. He didn’t see me.

Just as I was heading to the kitchen to make a green smoothie with vodka, there was a blood-curdling scream from the top of the house, and I watched Don running upstairs in nothing short of panic. “Max”, I thought, “But Don’s on it.”

Meandering past Don’s laptop, I happened to see Clara’s name on the screen in the form of an email. You will be shocked, dear readers, by what else I saw. Using my quick wits, I forwarded the email thread to myself, deleting the forward from Don’s sent box (I think).

So here is said thread, if you can bear to read it. I’ve switched the screenshots round for clarity, starting with Don’s mail. Sorry the text is a bit small – you may need to click on the images to get the full horror of it.

Don email

And this was Clara’s reply…

Clara email

 


 

After such a divine weekend, as I’m sure you will sympathise, this was not at all the Sunday evening I had hoped for. I didn’t mention anything to Don. I don’t know what to do. And as for that beep Clara, my cousin and trusted confidante all these years… She introduced Don and I, but both failed to mention that he was sloppy seconds.

Oh, and Max is fine. Just a little charred. Not even first degree burns really, despite what they said at Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

 

Happiest day of my life?! #whatevs & it's not like I've let myself go since then! But see how I am repaid for my hotness...

Happiest day of my life?! #whatevs
& it’s not like I’ve let myself go since then! But see how I am repaid for my hotness…


 

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Boring Well-Off Wifeys Who Do Charity Work

I don't need to be no Mother Teresa to justify my existence

I don’t need to be no Mother Teresa to justify my existence

Annoyingly, the landlord wants us out of our fabulous Emerald Hill Road shophouse by the end of July because apparently saying we’re not sure if we’re staying doesn’t cut it. What now, now?? Is chivalry and general politesse truly so dead? I mean, the guy must own half of the island so like, what’s the big deal…?

The implicationses of this are that we’ve been forced to accept viewings of the property. I abso hate having strangers – even Expaterati strangers – traipsing around my inner sanctum, delving into my most personal nooks and crannies, and checking out my vast collection of shoes and such. Can’t bear it. And some of them want to come before midday! Imagine!! It’s very stressful for me, as you will no doubt sympathise, dear readers, and it interferes quite intensely with my roof terrace relaxation and meditation.

I got the time of a visit wrong yesterday morning and was faced with an horrific rush to stash the Veuve empties behind the ornamental pool towel cupboard, pour the remainder of a glass into my fabulous bourganvillia bush (utterly wasteful and I loathe waste when so many people in this world have so little – even if my bush is the finest on the street), and shimmy into some elegant resort wear. I’ve only my sharp wits and perceptiveness to thank for my rapid response. Otherwise I can’t think how embarrassing it would’ve been for the potential tenants, particularly the wife, to stumble upon me in all my hotness.

Anyhoo, today we had another couple round and on this occasion, I knew exactly when they were due to arrive. I’m almost certain that the reason I got it wrong yesterday was because of those pesky relocation people not telling me. Don says it was my mistake, but he says that about so many things that it can’t possibly be truesome.

They seemed nice at first – loud American wife (loud in that lovely way that only Septics can truly carry off) and beige Belgian hus. They really liked the house and she asked me lots of questions about the neighbourhood and living in Singas. Little did she know how privileged she was to be picking the complex brains of an expert expat and celebrité blogger. Some people don’t know they’re born, honestly. As a kind soul though, I was happy to give her the benefit of my wisdom. I even gave her a cup of tea. Apparently they drink Earl Grey now, these Americans… Funny that, after all the hoo-ha they made about our tea.

Then she started to get all personal and up in my face! Gently at first, so I didn’t even notice. She said, “Soooo, Mrs Austen-Jones, God I love your name!! It’s so British! So cute!!! Kinda royal, and classic! But so loooong. Is it ok if I call you Emma?”

“Errr well it’s Emma-Jane really, so I’d prefer EJ… You know, like your OJ or your PBJ and stuff…”

“Sure Emma, sure. I hear you. EJ it is!”, she said, and I thought gosh I really love Americans.

“So Emma”, she continued, “You’ve been here for a few years now. What’ve you been up to? I mean, I know you’re a mom, which wonderful – I’m a mom too – and I understand from your husband that you used to be a lawyer. Me too! Funny, huh?? And I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with myself here if I’m not practicing, so I’d love to know how you’ve spent your time.”

“OMG, you’re a lawyer too! It’s like totes contagious among corporate expat spouses… law and accounting. Bizarro!! Ummmm, well what I’ve been mainly doing is taking some time out to explore, and you know, get to know the real me, who I am as an awesome person.”

[At that point, I did a moving rendition of the song, I’ve been to paradiiiiiiiise, but I’ve never been to meeeeee. It was a beautiful moment.]

The woman, Kelly, appeared alarmingly unmoved, and asked, “So what have you actually been doing?”

“Well, as a life-long yogi and dedicated meditator, that has taken much of my attention. Plus I go to the gym a lot, and I work out with my personal trainer. And I think it’s important to look one’s best in flip flops, so regular pedis are essential. Very time-consuming. And it’s totes vital as an expat wife to have a strong social network, so I meet up with my Expaterati girlies as much as poss… And I write a blog… Maybe as a newcomer you haven’t heard of it… You should check it out. Diary of an Expat Somebody. It’s all about sharing my glamorous life and the profound insights I have with the universe and beyond.”

“Oh, ok”, she said, and this is where it got nasty, “So you don’t have a job, you’re out all the time exercising or partying” –

I had to cut her off, “No babes, I’m at home sometimes, being a really great wife and mum or having me time so that I can become a better wife and mum.”

[This mom sh** has to stop. But it won’t!!! It’ll only get worse! It’s being adopted everywhere I look. Even the Aussies ffs. What would the Bard have thought about the systematic slaughter of our language?!]

“Sure, Emma, I get what you’re telling yourself, but we’re moving here from India, where I had the chance to be involved in some incredible charity initiatives. We really did some amazing work, so vital. Now ok, maybe here there’s less need, but I’m sure there are plenty of volunteering opportunities. Don’t you think you could’ve used your time here a little more… constructively?”

Enough was starting to become very much enough. This complete stranger was sitting in my kitchen, interrogating me about how I live my life! Rood. She didn’t even know what a generous, giving, hugely-empathic person I am. Hold my tongue, I no longer could.

“Well, Kelly, it’s really super-nice that you did all that helpy stuff. Super dooper nice, and you obviously find yourself to be a more important person because of it so it’s just marvellous that a few orphans or whatevs gave you the pleasure of being holier than thou. Now, what did you say your husband does for a living again? Oh yes, he’s a banker – yes, aren’t they all? So effectively, babes, as the wife of an evil capitalist, sustained by a system that exploits and robs the less fortunate, all you’ve been with your do-gooding is your husband’s conscience. It happens all over the world, spoilt rich wives consoling themselves with a supporting role, pretending that fannying about in soup kitchens will compensate for the social crimes to which they themselves are accessories!”

I was on a roll! Words were pouring out of my mouth in a stream so amazebobsly smooth and coherent that I even surprised myself!! I suspect I may be a gifted orator. And I seem to know a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t even know I knew! I’m a gorgeous mystery.

She tried to interrupt, but I was havin’ none of it.

“And an accessory is precisely what you are in this life – just another gaudy bauble – so don’t you forget that. Don’t go thinking that your tiny contribution to poor people has any more value that a tacky piece of costume jewellery. Your husband’s, and therefore thusly your, contribution to everything bad in the world faaaaaar outweighs the feeble attempts you’ve made to give back. It’s a drop in the ocean. All you’ve really been doing is making yourself feel good about YOU. And that, my girl, is a shameful and narcissistic thing to do.”

I paused, and then added, “So there!”, to further emphasise the power of my oration.

Kelly looked blank, and asked, “And what does your husband do exactly?”

“He’s a banker. Of course. But that’s on him. Unlike you, I am my own person. I don’t need to be his conscience. So that’s why I don’t do charity work. I’m no hypocrite. And anyway, actually I have done a bit of volunteering in my capacity of Events Chair with the Singapore International Women and Trailing Spouses Association. We raised a ton of cash for Ebola last year thanks to moi. But I did that as a favour to a friend who positively begged me for my skills, not because I needed to feel good about myself.”

The beige evil capitalist then entered the kitchen with the letting agent.

“I think we should go now, Stephane”, said Kelly, “This woman is insane. I could never live in a house where she has lived.”

Good. Now GET OUT, I thought.

Jobs R Sexy & I Should Get One

I have, not for the first time of late, been considerating getting myself a job. I’m thinking of going into advertising, given my amazobobs inspirations and boundless creativity, plus the fact that I love love love Madmen. Awful the way women were treated back then, but awesome how much better everything is now (except the whole getting-paid-less-than-a-man-for-the-same-job thingie, argh can that really be truesome??).

Having reflected upon finding a job for a while, yesterday the idea solidified in my mind for two reasons. Firstly, I bought this incredible old skool Parker pen in hot pink (haven’t even seen a Parker for like two decades). People with jobs use pens, am I right?? So if I got some employment I could interchange all my Mont Blancs with said pink pen, to show how eclectic and interesting I am. Without a job, I’m not sure I’ll ever use the glorious Parker, and that would be a shameful waste of $20.

And B), I know quite a few hot Expaterati ladies who have jobs (like my v hot friend at ANZA and my super hot lawyer girlie), and getting one myself would make me all the hotter. Being a SAHM, even one who doesn’t SAH much, just isn’t sexy. Yes, I make it look like it is, but I’m an anomanomoly, as you are aware, dear readers.

Alora, with these points in mind, I went to a fabulous party for the launch of the Asia Content Marketing Association last night and had the best time everrrr. Met some super nice babes from across the industry, who were smart and funny and totes reinforced my conviction that jobs are sexy. Turns out these advertising folk are a blast! I was pretty much hired on the spot at least four times. Thankfully though, no one begged me to start straight away because I was going nowhere this morning!! It wasn’t so much the sixteen glasses of wine (and actually my memory can sometimes play tricks on me – think it was probably only three), as the current alignment of the planets. I needed a day to just be… To elevate my chi by watching season three of Orange is the New Black in the roof terrace pool. Can’t write anymore because I have to get back to said just being. Sorry, babeses!! I’m not a machine, you know.

LOVE IT!!

LOVE IT!!

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

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

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

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

EPIC.

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

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

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

Then I thought, naaaaaaaaw.

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

And that made her go away.

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

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

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

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

Are Adults Really Grown Up?

Unknown
Annoyingly, yesterday I had a gazillion things to do, but couldn’t do them because of the irritants. It was their last day of school, so I had to go to their respective parties. Not really kosher to wriggle out on this occasion given the actual final finality if we’re leaving. Plus, I’d offered to bring a few kiddie canapé selections, and I had to give the teachers their gifts. That meant that a large part of the previous day was also eaten up by the same cause. Had to collect said canapés, before popping into Tiffany’s to pick up the engraved bracelets, times four including classroom assistants, argh spent a fortune, but had no choice given our financial stature. Anything else would’ve been frankly embarrassing.

Milly’s was in the morning, and I took the help with me so that she could ferry Mills home again. I was as least able to join my girlies for the tail-end of a champagne brunch.

Then Max’s was in the afternoon. Everything was coolio until the end when Max was saying bye to his friendses. The strangest thing happened. Some sort of out of body experience, I suspect. I was watching him chatting away to the other kids, hugging goodbye and being all sad and stuff, and suddenly it was as if I was whooshed up into the air, hovering over the half-eaten canapés, the piles of empty cake bowls, and the assembled group of little people. Instead of seeing Max and his cohorts, I saw myself as a six year-old girl, and the faces of my childhood buddies, just as they were when I last saw them, so many years ago.

Hovering over to the window, I looked out at the other side of the school and saw the older kids, the teenagers, also all saying goodbye. And again, there was me and my teenage gang. The word “goodbye” started to echo more and more loudly in my beautiful mysterious brain, until I thought, “OMG, EJ babes, you’re like totes losing it!! Keep it together, hot stuff!!!”

And with that, I de-hovered, landing elegantly on the cushions in the reading corner. I noticed that my face was wet with tears, so I made a dash for the loo to make sure my mascara was holding up. Once there, I looked at myself in the mirror (mascara all fine, phewee!) and the weirdness resumed. My face was as it was when I was six. I blinked a couple times, and suddenly the person staring back at me was me at sixteen. Then twenty-six, then six again, and then as I am now. I had the strangest thought: that I’m older, but only in years. I realised that essentially, I am the same as I’ve always been. I don’t feel much older than when I was six, or sixteen, or twenty-six. It’s only the world that tells me I am. Like that moment when people stop calling you Miss and start calling you Madam. (I decided to stay TF away from France for that v reason, incidentally. One year it was Madamoiselle, and the next, it was Madame. Of course that only happened recently as I look so awesome for my age, due to my excellent beauty and wellbeing regime, and my genius anti-ageing techniques.)

Sheesh, I thought to myself, what was in that Vietnamese food I had last night?! The mushrooms did seem a tad off-key…

Anyhoo so I managed to get a grip, partly because I am incredibly resilient, and partly thanks to the mini bottle of Veuve Click I happened to have about my person. I just love those tiny bottles – so dinky!!

I flounced merrily back to the classroom, delighted the teaching staff with their gifts, eventually dragged Max away from the crying morass, and sashayed to the car. With the top down on the Mazzer, I cranked up the Jessie J to let everyone on the CTE know that “it’s not about the price tag, just wanna make the world dance, it’s not about the ba-bling ba-bling”, etc. I <3 that song!!! It’s one of my personal anthems. 

Later I took some time to hang with my thoughts on the roof terrace. What happened at school brought to mind a conversation Seth and I had right before I stopped going to the same yoga classes as him. I guess maybe I forgot to mention that to you, dear readers. It wasn’t a big deal or anything. Just that I needed to change my schedule.

The last time he and I spoke, I was talking about our relocation and that it’s kinda sad and stuff. As always, he totes got where I was coming from. Not sure exactly how it came about (probly another one of these freaky out of body experiences! Argh!!), but I got a bit emo, and said, “The thing is, with this moving stuff and all… I don’t think I can do it. Not again. It’s too much, too hard. It’s too… grown-up! And I know I should be a grown-up, but I really don’t feel like I am. I’m supposed to help the children get through it. How can I do that if I’m still a child myself??”

Hearing the words that were coming out of my fabulous full lips, I felt kinda ridic for a sec, but Seth didn’t seem to think I was ridic. That was nice. It was right then that I realised I had to change my yoga schedule and not go to the same classes as him. Those times just weren’t working for me.

Then last night I headed to Club Street with my Expaterati ladeeees. Still in a reflective mood, I gazed around, taking in the scenes I may soon be leaving. It was the usual crowd: young puffed-up male bankers out-numbering a cluster of equally young female counterparts. There were also the FMAWG* (I’ve noticed lately that some aren’t fat, and some aren’t white, but they’re all middle-aged, which for men is 40-65 apparently) with their petite Asian girlies (though I’ve also noticed that they’re not all petite or Asian). Now I’ve always tended to think of these chappies as utter scum, but I had a flashback to my earlier out of body experiences, and the thought occurred to me that maybe there are good reasons why they do what they do. Maybe they feel like they’re still twenty-six, and in that case, it makes sense that they’d have a young girlie looking back at them; rather than the middle-aged woman who’s been looking at them for decades, reminding them like a mirror of their crows feet each time they see hers.

So with my amazebobs empathic capabilities, I found that I forgave all those FMAWG and daft old Donald Trump and silly mentalist Hugh Hefner. I realised the elegant logic behind their behaviour, and it has already had major repercussions on my chi. I have felt a new peace with the world since last night, and I see now that we are all only as old as we feel.

Of course, I’m not excusing these dudes’ shenanigans. I am merely saying that there are explanifications and that I have heretofore thusly figured them out with my powerful mind. I am sharing them with you, dear readers, for your edication and edification. You’re welcome.

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
George Orwell

Mir, als ich klein var

Mir, als ich klein var

* Fat Middle-Aged White Guys

 

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.

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.

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.

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Amazebobs play what I saw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tribes, babeses

Tribes, babeses

Expat Wives = Swans

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

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

Babeses, it bloody works!! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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!!

Whirlwind Expat Weekend of Hotness and Roof Terrace Yoga

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

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

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

 
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty cool hair, huh??!

Pretty cool hair, huh??!

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

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

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

 

 

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.

F4F_auditionheader_1

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!!