Are Adults Really Grown Up?

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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

 

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The Limbo State of the Expat Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Horrible Horrors of Repatriation

I haven’t been able to sleep for the past few nights, since reading the frightening article on the Expat Wall Street Journal site about repatriation blues. It’s partic awful for me right now, given the ongoing unknowingness that is occurring re Don’s job. When I have slept, it has been in fitful and anxious bouts, interspersed with dreadful dreams about rollerblading through Waitrose (Americans, that’s a high-end grocery store; Australians and others, you’ll know already, yes lah?) in a g-string bikini, with a faded tan and a woefully unkempt Brazilian (wax, not person from Brazil). As I round the corner from household to bakery, I fall over, but no one understands the language I am speaking, calling out that my legs and heart are broken.

It got so bad last night that I literally became delirious through sleep-deprivation. I found myself on the roof terrace, in a state of panic that April’s delivery of Veuve Click was already exhausted. How could that be???!!

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The only option I had was to phone cousin Clara the psychologist, and beg for her help to get me out of this wretched head space. I really need my sleep because tomorrow I’m kickin’ it with Charli XCX at her pre-concert meet and greet, and then I want to be 110% grounded in my awesomeness to enjoy her concert in the evening.

So I phoned Clara and I instructed her assistant to tell her that I was v upset, and I might do something stupid. (I just meant I might buy something hideous from Marc Jacobs. Dunno what she thought I meant.)

Within minutes, Clara called me back, bless her : ) Therapists have such good hearts.

I explained to her about what I’d read, and that I’m totes terrified about the repat blues if we have to go back to London soon-ish. And that I’ve run out of Veuve Click.

I was practically in tears, and she must surely have felt my pain, so I was totes blown away when she laid into me!!

Check the diatribe, babeses!:

“Emma-Jane. If you want to know why it is that expats suffer when they return to their home countries, I will tell you. You won’t like what I am going to say though, so I will ask you now, do you really want to know my thoughts on this?”

Because of my desperate state combined with my general intense curiosity about psychological issues, I said, “Um, ya, ok lah.”

“Some people become expats because they are unable to reconcile existential human givens. Givens like the fact that existence might be meaningless and that we are all just tiny fragments in the universe, simultaneously unique and insignificant. They can’t bear their feelings of insignificance, of feeling like nobody, so rather than staying put to reflect on those anxieties and learning how to process them, they run from their fears. They run to the next big adventure, and then the next. It’s as if they think they can escape from themselves or become somebody else, if they only run fast enough to new and different places. And then if they do go back home, there are all the fears and anxieties, right where they left them. And now they’re older, and have a new set of fears, like ageing parents they have to face again; as well as their own ageing, and retirement. So, for someone in that position, repatriation will be a huge loss: a loss of adventure, a loss of expectation. A sudden coming down to earth with a bump.”

“But babes”, I interrupted, feeling quite battered and baffed, “You’re actually totes making it worse! I don’t want to come down to earth with a bump!! Why me?? Why should I have to? I just want to feel better, so that I can sleep better, so that I can hang out with a pop star on Wednesday! Can’t you be a bit more supportive here, and get me through this?! That’s why I called you!”

“EJ, as your cousin, I would like to support you. But you have called me at work, and I too have worries that keep me up at night. Worries about patients, worries about funding cuts, worries about my family. And I am not going to just reassure you in order to maintain your current patterns. Coming down to earth is actually a good thing. It’s an opportunity to finally be still enough to explore the losses, fears and anxieties you have been trying to run from. So if you are coming back, yes, it’ll be hard for the first year or maybe longer. But then it will get easier, and hopefully you’ll find a way to feel at home in yourself.”

She paused.

“Look EJ, I have to go now. I have a patient waiting for me.” We said byes.

To feel at home in myself. Hmmmmm. I decided to contemplate that with a G & T, and as it turned out, the idea really did help. By my fourth glass, I was fast asleep on the roof terrace sofa. I had a lovely dream about living in a house overlooking the ocean. It was only when I woke up drenched that I realised the thunder storm wasn’t just part of my dream. As I got ready for bed, I thought that Clara may be full of sh**, but the house on the ocean did look pretty nice.

Free Anti-Ageing Techniques, For Expats and Non-Expats

I believe I may have mentioned once or twice, that expat wives can be very competitive. Cousin Clara says it’s about, “establishing a hierarchy in a mixed environment, wherein cultural norms such as class system are less clear-cut than among static populations”; but I think it’s more like Froo Froo at Tanjong Beach Club. She does that sniffing thing all dogs do. I won’t degrade her by going into details, but I think you know what I mean.

Anyhoo, today I was lunching with my Expaterati girlies – some friendses and some not so much – and a discussion emerged about personal anti-ageing preferences in the facial region. My totes babesome BFF Flo has had a fair old whack of interventions: regular meet-ups with Lady B, a touch of collagen, a few teensy implants, a little eye-lift, and some other minor bits and bobs. She is gorgeous. Trust me. Hot as.

Au contraire, Doom and Gloom Expat Wifey (why does she still get invited to our lunches??) shuns all beauty enhancements, and instead chooses the Abandon All Hope approach to physical signs of ageing.

As loyal readers will know, I espouse the Ladeee Luuuuuv view, that we ladies should be free to decide what, when, why and how we do whatevs we want with our appearance, as long as we look and feel our utmost hottest at all timeses. And we should totes support each other in those decisions, rather than put sistas down.

Me and the gals were therefore thusly being super supportive when we said to D & G that maybe she should consider doing something about her face; at least opting for waterproof mascara, given the realities of this climate (she seriously looks like an owl and I’m seriously not joking TBH). I feel mahusively sorry for her because I secretly know that her hus is heavily involved with his male PA (I’ve only told six other people, including Flo), so we were doing her a favour by trying to force her to make an effort. For her own sake, you know?! It’s what her Guardian Angel would have wanted.

In a way, we were just being the earthly embodiment of her Guardian Angel. At the time, I even formulated an intention to chant for her in my meditation space with the Buddha water feature and a nice Nag Champa burn, offering up these words: May the Universe throw forth eternal blessings to make Mrs Doom & Gloom look a lot better so that she can be a bit hot, namasté.

So I was serioso horrificated when D & G said to Flo, “I completely respect what you’ve done to your face, and your right to choose that. But I choose not to do those things, so you should respect my right not to. And no offence, but you don’t look your age, or anyone’s age, you just look like someone who has had all kinds of stuff done to your face. You basically look like everyone else who has Botoxed, collagened, and whatever elsed their faces beyond recognition. I don’t even know what you really look like!! Do you?!”

Weeeeellll, that was a step too far, babeses.

I was shocked (Flo was too, though you’d have to know her deep down to see it, due to the lack of facial cues), but I remained sufficiently in retention of my verbal and empathic skills to intervene.

“Hon”, I said, with my sweetest Kate Middleton smile, “Just because you choose to pay zero attention to your appearance, despite the fact that you’re probly pushing 49, and you’ve obviously had way too much sun on your face during your youth, it’s really quite unfair to judge others, ya get me? Partic when they look way hotter than you, and their husband isn’t screwing his dude personal assistant”…

Oopsy!! It just came out! Oh dear. All cool though because almost everyone there (except D & G herself) knew about it anyway. So that was fine.

D & G stared at me, with the weirdest look. It was like a combination of, “I hate you and I want you dead”, and “OMG, babes, thanks so much for letting me know!”

More the latter, I felt, so when she stood up to leave, it seemed right for me to give her a great big hug. People need warmth and intense suffocating closeness after hearing difficult news. I know that because of my six-month counselling training.

After my lovely hug, she left, and I was happy for two reasons: 1. I felt secure in the knowledge that I had done all I could to boost her self-esteem. And B) I wanted to get back to my pastrami Reuben – my only carb and mayo shots this week. No way I’m not going to enjoy that!

Once she was gone, we normal happy ladies had a nice chat about how we manage to look so young. I shared with them two of my amazing anti-ageing gems that are 100% free. Because I am v generous, I will share them with you too, dear readers.

The first one is to think of a beautiful female celebrity who’s at least ten years older than you. Fully appreciate that a ton of work and cash has gone into how she looks. And know that she will always be SO VERY MUCH older than you.

And that’s it! It’s basically my reformulation of Einstein’s theory of relativity, applied to ageing. You’re welcome!

My other genius tip is to say that you’re older than you are. For centuries, women have been making the ridic error of claiming to be younger than they are. Whyee?? If you say you’re younger, people are more likely to be looking at you, thinking, “Yowzer, she looks rough!”. Say you’re five or ten years older though, and they’ll be thinking totes the opposite, begging you to reveal the secrets of your amazebobs youthfulnessification. A great thing about this technique is that after you’ve said it a few times, you will start to partly believe it, so you can fully embrace the positive feedback you receive.

Then, unless you develop an as yet unclassified mental health disorder of believing your own age lie, you’ll also partly still not believe it, which will remind that you’re really 35 not 45 (or 50 not 60, 60 not 70, you get the pic). That’ll keep you totes aware of how young you actually are, in contrastation with the age you’ll be a decade from now.

All my girlies agreed that both ideas are incredibly wise. So it’s fair to say that this proves beyond reasonable doubt that if you follow these strategies, along with my previously provided beauty advice and my fashion go-tos, you can be as hot as me for many years to come. If only D & G read my blog. It could save her marriage. There’s just no helping some people. Shame.

 

Froo Froo in her dokini at Tanjong Beach Club. Even the dog is hotter than Mrs Doom & Gloom.

Froo Froo in her dokini at Tanjong Beach Club. Even the dog is hotter than Mrs Doom & Gloom.

 

Ladeee Luuuuuv

Following the incrediblé resounding success of the Fake Scale campaign – which hasn’t actually started yet, but it’s tremendously resounding anyway – another genius notion has occurred to moi. I am calling it “Ladeee Luuuuv”. This may sound like a lesbian ting, and could possibly lead to increased dykee-looking behaviour, but it isn’t really about that. It’s about the sistahood, sistas.

So I think we know this already, but women can often be super mega-mean to other women. As you’ll know if you’re a liker of my Facebook Page, last week I was floating down Orchard Road on my way back from Jane’s Pilates class, and this woman walked past me, wearing the ugliest yellow jeans in the universe. Under her breathe she said, obviously to me, “Botox much??”

Firstly, no sweetie, not much actually.

And B, jealous much, because I am a fashion expert and know not to dress like you?

And three: what’s it to you what I do with my face?? If you have nothing nice to say, why say anything at all?

Despite their vast array of faults, men would never do that. Because men know that a happy lady is a “generous” lady. Am I right, gentlemen ; )? (A rhetorical question, hence no need to answer it, all two of my readers in possession of a Y chromosome. And of those two chappies, only one is straight. So it’s a rhetorical question to you, guy babe.)

This is why I’ve come up with Ladeee Luuuuv, to ask all the sistas out there to just be a little bit nicer to each other, and say at least one nice thing every day to another woman, whether you know her or not. Like, “Babes, I heart your hairdo”, or “You have such graceful wrists, honey”, or even, “I don’t know you, but I’ll bet you’re a totes lovely person”. If you really can’t think of a single nice thing to say, say nothing. Jog on and find another sista on whom to heap some luuuv.

A blogtastic babe friendee of mine wrote a post along these lines recently, about people judging on looks, especially about ageing. Although I’m v hot and my awesome self-maintenance regime means you’d think I was in my early-thirties (39 approaching fast!), I do feel that all this pressure for women not to look older is ridic. Come on now, the only alternative to ageing is death, and we’re all heading in the same direction. So if we’re lucky enough to remain alive beyond 29, can’t we find a way to make the best of it and encourage each other along the way, rather than dread and despise the process? (I know: I should be a life coach.)

I thusly therefore think that we ladies need to stick up for each other, and for our rights to age howsoevers we want, with or without interventions of our choosing. Most of my Expaterati girlies are great at this already, but I believe we can all do more to get sistas everywhere feeling a ton better about themselves. Let’s do this thing!! Spread some Ladeee Luuuuuv today, babeses! Xx

 

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XOX

 

 

EJ’s Expat Musings

As a blog aficionada, I am an avid follower of blogs. I follow 839 blogs, all of which I read regularly, and write fascinating, witty comments to make their content more interesting. You simply have to if you want more traffic to your own blog. No choice.

So, I came across one which made me feel a little sad. Copied it to share and explore with you, dear readers, but now cannot for the life of me remember which blog it’s from. Anyhoo.

It was written by an expat blogger in Singapore, and is about the tourists who come here, specifically the older peeps:

“I’ve seen these over-tanned couples here on vacation. Tons of them in their 60’s and 70’s. They sit in the bars and restaurants, with bags of shopping during the day, and wearing the shopping at night. They mumble to each other. They stare at each other and then look away. She catches him eyeing up a young woman who looks just like she did, not so long ago. It wasn’t so very long ago, was it? He notices her noticing him and moves his head, pretending he was just taking in the panoramic view around him, not at all entranced by the girl who his wife used to resemble. Not at all disappointed by the woman he now finds himself chained to for all of eternity.”

Now, apart from the crappola prose and inconsistent use of commas, I am v curious about what the blogger was getting at. Since reading it, I’m now seeing these couples everywhere I go (megannoying! like having Daft Punk’s Up All Night on a loop in my head!!), and have even been “panorama’d” myself. Gross!! It’s like being checked out by your much older brother!!

I can understand it though, partly because I’m so hot, but also because, as hard as these older ladies try (boob jobs, Botox, hairdos, facial waxing), they just ain’t got it. Soz senior sistas, but no, just NO!

So, I feel rather sorry for these chaps, and I feel like the blogger is exploiting their misery to generate content. Which is really low.

This situation will never happen to Don and me. I don’t age like most women do, thanks to my punishing self-maintenance schedule and the chanting. So girlies, get chanting before it’s too late!

That said, I had to skip meditation today, and also had no time to chant because I was so busy. Ages ago I asked the helper to do the xmas shopping on Amazon (tax schmax!) for the folks back home, and then discovered this morning that she hasn’t done it because she wasn’t sure what to order! What now, now? What do these people do normally, to not know what gifts to buy?? So, after she had stopped crying and regained some composure (I hate how she does that crying thing just to piss me off), I told her she should get fun stuff for the kids and the men, toys and gadgets, and pretties for the women. Easy!! How hard was that? Where’s your initiative, helper woman?

What she fails to understand is that I am so swamped preparing for Mummy’s arrival tomorrow, and Milly’s bday party on Saturday. She doesn’t seem to realise that I am constantly on the go, and that just because I am lying on the sofa staring into space, I am nonetheless engaged in vital reflective processes.

Maybe I need to get a second helper.

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Quick shout-out to my girlies back home: Happy Birthdays, Rina and Debs!!! When are you coming to Singas to parté avec moi?! LOVE YA. Mwa-mwa.

Young Women = Annoying

Sometimes I look at young people, well just the women, and I think, “UGH. You’re just so YOUNG and so PERFECT, aren’t you??! Well, UGH to you!!”

It’s not that I’m jealous. Jealousy is not a Thing for me at all. It’s more that until recently, I too was v young, and these girls just don’t care. Yes, kiddo on the street in your tiny shorts, I too had perfect long limbs. They’re actually still rather great, and attract lots of male attention (unwanted, I hasten to add). But what I’m trying to say is that I, too, was just like you girlies. It’s only all of sudden lately, so so suddenly… that I am apparently not : (

Being the tremendously positive and resilient person that I am though, I have developed a v clever way to turn that frown upside down. When I see one of these young fillies prancing along Orchard Road (no, sweetie, this isn’t bloody Fifth Avenue), I smile to myself, and think, “Ha, but you’re going to die too one day, you know! And it could be quite horrible!! In fact, you might not even make it to my age, let alone to your dotage. AND I bet that even if you do get to my age (only 38!), you won’t look half as good as moi.”

So that, dear reader(s), is how I do it. Try it some time, ladies!

I should think about becoming a life coach. I’d be awesomeness. I could trademark my unique approach, and call it something like EJ’s Transformative Total Resilience Technique TM. Likee.