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!!

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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.

Shocking Expat Unfoldments, Part One

Three profoundly disturbing things have occurred this week:

1. My father, now in a home for peeps with dementia, has got himself intimately involved with another inmate, and apparently the two of them believe they have been happily married since 1968.

2. The loo brushes. I now know who the culprit is, and it’s not pretty.

3. I found some rather unpleasant material in the photos on Max’s iPad, which is synced with Don’s iCloud. There must be some mistake, though, because Don and I are the perfect example of expat marital bliss.


Paradise, lah

Paradise, lah

It has all been too much, so I’ve had to take myself off on a retreat to Nikoi Island, to meditate and drink Veuve with my girlies. They have all gone to bed now (well, they went somewhere, anyway), so I am allowing myself to percolate these horrendous issues, little by little. I am writing to you from a white sand beach, about my troubles in paradise.
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Is the Helper Selling my Designer Toilet Brushes Online?

Photo: http://www.shopdecor.com/designer/selab-design/wc-royale.html

Photo: http://www.shopdecor.com/designer/selab-design/wc-royale.html

A majorly odd thing has happened in our beautiful exclusive home this week: the luxury toilet brushes that I ordered from Italy have disappeared.

I noticed our en-suite looked different on Monday morning, while I was lying in the bath, contemplating the lovely day I had ahead of me at Flo’s Australia Day lunch. Well, I didn’t exactly notice. I saw a space next to the loo, felt weird, and thought, “Hmmmmm, that’s not a very nice space… It’s like… just an empty space… with nothing going on there.”

That thought made my mood plummet like you wouldn’t believe, dear readers. Emptiness is all good and cool when I’m meditating, but otherwise, I don’t like it. I’m not having it, I tell you.

So I got out of the bath and tweeted about this strange empty space to Kim Kardy, Chris Lilley, Mindy Kaling, and a few others. Within seconds, my tweet had been favourited multiple times, and I’d had a ton of reassuring replies. That made me feel much better, and off I went to the salon for a blowout, totes forgetting the dreadful void.

After the amazebobs party with an awesome group of Expaterati girlies, I got home and, super silently but gracefully (Don was asleep), I went for a shower. Despite my super silent creeping aroundness, a bunch of stuff fell off the bathroom shelf (how, I do not know; that keeps happening to me late at night), making a bit of a crashing noise on the marble floor. Don burst through the door, asking me very rudely what the hell was going on, adding, “You do know it’s one o’clock in the morning, don’t you?? And you do know I have a flight to catch at five?!”

Such an effing drama queen.

I told him it’s way not my fault that we have such slippery shelving. That’s the landlord’s responsibility, not mine.

Don then proceeded to relieve himself in my presence – quite unsuitable, I feel, even after 12 years of marital bliss. When he was finished, instead of apologising for making a scene and having a pee right there in front of me, he pointed at the floor next to the loo and grunted, “Didn’t there used to be something there, in that empty space?”

“Whatevs, babes, go back to bed. How am I supposed to know?!”

Just by pointing it out, he single-handedly destroyed my chi and ruined my entire fabulous day that I had worked so hard to have. Ugh, marriage is such a difficult thing. Alain de Botton was absolutely right with all that guff he wrote about how marriage is basically promising to disappoint each other. “Big time”, I’d have added, had I been his editor. (Which I could’ve been, but I think he didn’t return my calls because he realised I’m so hot that I’d be a threat to his own marriage, should we work closely together.)

The empty space issue stressed me out so much that since then I’ve been making a gargantuan effort to ignore it, with the help of chanting, sexily doing the frog pose (yoga, babeses, if there’s anyone left in the world who doesn’t partake), and intensely studying every post on the Real Singapore Expat Wives’ Facebook group, as well as their fab Classifieds off-shoot. None of that helped : (. It made it worse, in fact, because today, on the Classifieds I saw…

My goddamn loo brushes!!!!!!!

All six of them!! You can imagine how distressed I felt at that point, as I ran screaming from bathroom to bathroom to bathroom to bathroom to bathroom to bathroom. I felt for sure I was losing it! How could this be?? All six!!

I immediately rang cousin Clara the psychologist (it must’ve been 4 AM in the UK, but she gets up early), and she calmed me down. She told me to try to put it in perspective, that they’re “only things”, and why didn’t I go for a really time-consuming nail art manicure, or something else that would get me out of the house and stop me looking at my phone.

Most of what she said made zero sense, but the manicure idea was a great one (which I could’ve come up with if I’d spent a gazillion years and a bajillion £s training to be a therapist). So I did that, and it totes mega helped!

Then I met up with my one friend who isn’t on Facebook – so bizarre – and I haven’t told her yet about the awful events because I don’t want to raise the spectre into the now. I’m typing this while I’m with her, but she doesn’t mind. She just chats away, bless her.

I’ll get to the bottom of this nightmare though, if it’s the last thing I ever do. I’ve texted the helper to tell her to buy a substitute brush in the meantime. Just the one, mind you. No point wasting money on non-designer household items.

(It couldn’t be the helper who’s behind all of this, could it?…)

Merry Expat Exmas Mega-Fiasco

Image: gracialouise.typepad.com

Image: www.gracialouise.typepad.com

Well, dear readers, members of the Expaterati, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you had a Merry Chrimbo, because I am sorry to say that I totes did not. Despite all my efforts to be good this year, and to give my family a lovely day, Santa basically dropped a bag of flaming poop on my doorstep.

The helper had the morning off, so I made everyone a beautiful breakfast of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and mimosas. Well, I supervised. Even though he is almost 7 years old, Max is still miserably bad at cracking eggs, so he got a lot of shell in the mix. Then he had the heat turned up too high, which made the scrambled eggs into murderous lumps of orange fishy sponge. Ugh.

Mummy was in charge of the mimosas. She opened the champagne far too brusquely, and the pop made Froo Froo dog pee all over the floor. Mummy then proceeded to pour herself and Don huge measures of champas vs orange juice, but gave me only the tiniest bit of bubbles, with mostly pulp. Not only that, she insisted on making fresh OJ, which meant that I had to spend several hours of my Christmas Day cleaning the juicer! I had been hoping to bust a chill after breakfast, maybe catch some rays and a swim on the roof terrace. Thanks for ruining that, Mummy!

Max and Milly were of course completes over-excited about opening their presents, and their awful noise also scuppered my chill plans. By midday I was worn out, so I went back to bed while Don sloped off to his cigar club, and Mummy and the help took the irritants to church.

When everyone got back, we did our obligatory Skype sessions with the family back home. I could really have done with more sleep, but I made the sacrifice, in keeping with this season of giving.

I don’t know why I did though, because all I got in return for my efforts was a ton of grief about the presents the helper had ordered on Amazon. I told her quite plainly to get pretties for the women, and toys and gadgets for the children and men. That’s pretty clear lah, ya?? Ya, lah, you agree, of course!

Apparently, my instructions, when translated into Tagalog, became crotchless underwear for the ladies (including my sister who we all know only wears huge off-white pants), and a selection of these for the men… and for the children! ARGH!! What now, now?? So instead of nice thank yous, I got repeatedly blasted, with each Skype sesh! Well ho bloody ho to you lot back in ole Blighty! As if the children had any idea what an Eva is!! Please, peeps. It has only just come out. Most adults don’t even know about it. (I certainly didn’t.) Cousin Clara the psychologist was the only person who didn’t completes lay into me. She said that my “gift-giving process was fascinating in a perverse way”. So, the best feedback I got was being called a pervert. Fab.

After the calls, I had no choice but to strongly reprimand the helper, and true to form, she immediately burst into tears. That A. Pissed me off, and secondly, made Milly start kicking Froo Froo. Mummy (oh SO empathic, aren’t you?!) grabbed Mills and the helper, and took them away to the upstairs back living room to do god knows what. Max didn’t notice any of it because he was totes immersed in Minecraft la-la land, and Don didn’t even look up from his Economist.

Now one would think, dear readers, that that would be sufficient ruination of my Chrimbo; that I had suffered sufficely from the slings and arrows of outrageous expat exmas fortune. Hells to the NO! Turns out that I had not!!

For the evening meal, I had gone to the major trouble in October of phoning Raffles Hotel to book a fabulous table for their buffet (incl. free-flowing Veuve Click), for Mummy, Don and I. It truly is a gorgeous-amundo setting, and it was supposed to be the perfect ending to our special family xmas.

That, it was not. Mummy was in a foul mood and hardly spoke. Until, that is, she was on her third glass of VC (after two G & T aperitifs), which is when all hell broke loose.

Raising her glass, she began to speak: “Well Emma-Jane, and you too, Don, I would like to say thank you so much for a truly delightful Christmas… For your wonderful generosity of spirit, and your warm hosting…”

“Oh Mum-ski”, I blushed prettily, like Kate Middleton, “There’s really no need to thank us…”

“No, what I was going to say is that I would like to thank you, but in actual fact, I am utterly appalled by the two of you. As if this trip wasn’t bad enough, Hilda has told me everything, and I’m absolutely disgusted!”

[WHAT?! Who the eff is Hilda??!]

Fighting through my shock at Mummy’s bizarre and totes unexpected outburst, I looked at Don to see what he was going to do to defend me. He stood up and went to the buffet.

“What on earth are you talking about, and who the bloody hell is HILDA??!”, I managed to say, after a quick touch-base with my higher power.

“Hilda, stupid girl, is your helper! She has a name, you know?!”

Oh! Hilda!! Right, that’s her name. Of course. Lololol!! In those moments I was terribly worried that Mummy had dementia too, that she had invented a mystical all-seeing being, and that I would have to get Don’s PA to find her a home too. Twice in one week! That would have been pushing it with the PA’s goodwill – even at this time of year.

“Yes, ok, I know who Hilda is. But I still have no clue what you’re on about, Mother. And I find it humungously ungrateful – even deeply abusive – that you would attack your daughter like this on Christmas Day!”, I told her, firmly but kindly.

“It’s just rude, Mummy. Rude!”, I added for good measure.

“Is it?? Is it really, Emma-Jane?”, she continued, insisting on using my full name just to be a big B.

“Hilda has told me about your drinking, that you’re drunk virtually every day and night, that you’re never home with the children, and that you SMOKE! Smoking, Emma-Jane?? Grow up!”

While I was putting my side of the story across, explaining that it’s terribly stressful being a trailing spouse and expat mother, constantly straining to adapt, she had the nerve to keep spewing.

“You are a terrible mother! Milly has serious anger issues, Max is addicted to Minecraft, and Don!! Do you even know what your husband is up to, while you’re swanning about?!”

By this point, I had been rendered speechless, for possibly the first time in my 38 years on this planet. I think even my hair had de-pouffed.

“I’ll tell you what Hilda said, shall I? Not only does Don have a drawer full of un-mentionables, but he is involved with another woman, at least one other woman. Where do you think he disappeared off to today? The cigar club wasn’t even open!!”, she hissed at me.

“Did you know that, Emma-Jane?? Did you? So, you are a terrible mother and a failed wife. Thank goodness you have your career to fall back on… Oh, no, wait a minute, you have no career either!! Look at yourself! On the brink of 40, and this is all you have to show? Very little, Emma-Jane. Very, very little.”

At last the tirade came to a close. I stared into space, as sweetly as I could, given the trying circumstances.

Don came back from the buffet.

“More champas, Glammy Gammy?”, he asked.

“Yes”, replied Mummy with a smile, “Yes, I think I will. Why not? It is Christmas, after all.”

“Cheers!”, Mummy said, once the champagne had been poured.

“So Don, my darling, Emma-Jane and I have been having a little chat in your absence, and we’ve come to the realisation that I’ve been away too long, and the rest of the family need me to go home. I won’t be coming with you to Boracay, very unfortunately, but I hope you have a lovely time. I’ll be leaving in the morning. I’ve decided to stay here at Raffles tonight, so as not to get under your feet for any longer than necessary. I’ll pop by tomorrow to say goodbye to Hilda and the children.”

“What a shame, Gammy!”, Don said, like he had just lost a few quid on the horses, “We’ll miss you awfully. But of course, needs must!”

Yes, I thought, in the cab back to Emerald Hill Road: needs bloody well must. Thank phewy that judgmental, insensitive, helper-loving woman won’t be joining us on our fabulous holiday in paradise. Branjelina and their brood stayed in the exacto same sea-view villa we’ll be in this time tomorrow, so you go home, Mother, and enjoy your lovely rainy New Years in suburban London. Needs must, sweetie Mum-ski. Whatevs.

So, merry flaming poop in a bag expat exmas, Expaterati peeps. May all your dreams come true.

Wait-a-minute! Not All Expats are A-Holes!!

This weekend, while I have been quite caught up in my feminist mission (which may or may not have been a dream – argh!), a dreadful thing has befallen the Singapore Expaterati.

A v nasty person stole screenshots from a closed Facebook group of expat wives here, in order to stir up anti-foreigner feeling among the local population. Chaps, this is totes not on!!

I’m not going to go into the original post, suffice it to say that it concerned a woman in labour waiting in a taxi queue, with no one allowing her to queue-jump. At no point did anyone check the passports of those in the queue to determine whether or not they were Singaporean, but an unfortunate inference came about that they were.

So what ensued was a discussion of how selfish or otherwise all Singaporeans are. The majority of the comments totes did not condemn our hosts, and many said the woman ought to have called an ambulance.

What the v nasty person did though, was take screenshots of the most extremo comments, the ones that said Singaporeans are racists. They then posed as an expat, “Sarah Jones” (lolol, who really has a name like that? you might as well claim to be Jane Austen or Bridget Jones! so ridic!!), and posted the shots on a site that is popular with a certain demographic of Singaporeans.

Now.

Ok.

I am all about freedom of expression (hence my feminist mission), but this seems to me a breach of trust and of privacy. Even in a group with over 10,000 members, surely there is a level of agreed sanctitification!! Am I right?? I mean, if something can leak from a group like that, does that mean the Internet has no safe space for people to speak their minds?

Well, if that’s the case then I want no part in this Internet thing anymore!! It’s just mui sinistré, mi amigos. Except for my blog, Facebook, and my meagre Twitter presence, mainly so that I can open a communication channel with V Becks. And Pinterest (I love that!). And StumbleUpon (so many funny things about cats and babies haha!!). And The Old Reader (which I don’t really get, but it’s for people on the cutting edge and that’s so mega-moi). Everything else though, I am done with you, Internet!

So what I want to say here is that although some expats are totes mega a-holes, the majority really are not. Most of us just love living here, muddling along with everyone in an environment of acceptance, and we’re serioso not trying to exploit the economy or pull a fast one. Serio, Singaporeo babeses!!

I even have a proper real Singaporean friend who agrees with me!

I told Clara about the Facebook furore, and she said that it’s “a common phenomenon for outsiders to club together and criticise the host country so as to feel a sense of bonding and belonging”. She said it happens in every expat community the world over, but in mature communities like Singapore and Hong Kong, “the process and the backlash tend to be more venomous”. She said it was to do with the British Empire and stuff about colonisation.

Hmmmmm. Well, Clara, I would agree with you, but for the fact that you have abso no idea what you’re talking about. I for one never criticise my host country and I totes <3 Singapore. The people are great, the shopping is great, the weather is great, there are loads of great restaurants, and David Beckham has bought a house on Sentosa. So it must be great! Mwa-mwa luv ya Xīnjiāpō!! Xx

Expats Can Be Such Totes A-Holes!

Most of us are awesome and lovely, but I have to say that some expats are incredibly rude, self-centred, and self-important. If locals ever develop a negative opinion of us, perhaps sometimes it is entirely justified. Today I witnessed an appalling example of this, while in a lift at the Ion, and I would like to share the incident with you, dear readers (wow, I definitely no longer have to say reader, single! Thanks, Mummy, for telling your scrabble group!), so that you can join me in my expression of outrage.

Ok. So. There are a ton of malls in Singapore, and generally they have a lotta lifts (elevators, lovely Americans, elevators. But your word is cooler : D), serving a lotta floors. Often the lifts can get crowded, and might take a while in transit between floors. Today I got the lift down from the PS Café (who knew they had a terrace? Well, my gorgeous NYC friend who I met for lunch knew! Yay! She asked not to be named) to B2, and then back up again to exit. I was too stuffed after over-indulging in the truffle fries (love love LOVE those fries) to get the escalator.

When the doors slid open at B1, there were these two blonde women standing there, and the one with a gigantic pushchair (the kind that there’s plenty of room for on the wild plains of Hampstead Heath, but here, darling?? I don’t think so), looked quite unattractively frazzled. The one without the pushchair forced her way into the lift – where honestly there was absolutely zero space – and began imploring the existing liftees to make room for her friend. Ex-kuse me?? We were here first, honey. Entonces mi amores, myself and the rest of the liftees had to squash together (lucky for her we were all completely unimpaired, unencumbered people! I mean, what if we had been wheelchair-users or we had had pushchairs too??).

During this cringe-worthy unfoldment, Pushchair Bird said, “I’m really sorry, but I have been waiting for 15 minutes to go up one level because I don’t feel comfortable taking the pushchair on the escalator with a small baby, and all the lifts have been full. I’m sorry to squash you, but if anyone is able to take the escalators, I’d be really grateful.”

She looked like she was about to cry, but thankfully we were all able to avoid eye contact, ignore her pleas, and be-grudgingly make enough room for the silly woman and her stupid baby. A guy at the back said, “There’s really no room!”, and I thought, “Ha, you tell her, sunshine!”

OMG. In those moments, I was truly ashamed to be the only other non-local present. How abso toteso embarrassing. I just wanted to curl up and die right there in the basement of the Ion. Yowzer. Who did that Pushchair Bird think she was?? Disgraceful behaviour. And that’s why it is no wonder if sometimes our hosts view us with negativity. The minority spoil it for the majority.

Now, my cousin Clara says that this kind of thing is an illustration of what happens when Caucasians move to certain countries, notably those with a colonial history, where they are easily physically identifiable as being foreigners. The specific words she used when we spoke today (I didn’t tell her about this exact incident, but this is what she said in general about the expaterati) were “inflation”, “narcissism”, and “being a big fish in a small pond” (um thanks, Clara, for that patronising use of metaphor, but you’ve completes missed the mark there because Don was a big fish at home; so you may need to check back in with your textbooks, sweets).

Anyhoo. After the Ion, I stopped off at Marketplace at the Paragon to get sushi for Max’s dinner, a Waitrose ready-meal for Milly (she loves those and the helper is busy washing the car and cleaning the shoes tonight, so I thought I’d give her a break), and the next stock of organic f and v for my green smoothie tomoz. Incidentally, Don’s out tonight, so I won’t be eating. Not after all those fries.

I get to the till and the check-out minion starts putting my purchases into plastic bags, as per usuo. Then I notice from my peripheral vision that the (obv expat) woman behind me has produced her re-usable bags, and is giving me the full-on evil eye! (the “hairy eyeball”, as Kath & Kim would say, so much LOLOLOL). So, I’m like, “What, now, now, now??”

Not being one to avoid conflict (bottling it in is not good for my chi), I turned right around to face that B – while flashing my Passion Card across the reader – and said, “Sorry, do we have a problem here?”

And you will not believe what that hoity-toity B-face said…

She said: “Do you know how long it takes for those bags to degrade? It takes from 20 to 1,000 years for every single bag, and a lot of bad things happen to marine wildlife along the way. I totally understand if today you’re just in a hurry, or you forgot to bring a bag, but you can have one of mine if you like.”

For the second time in one day, dear readers, I was just dumb-founded. The arrogance of these people! As a Brit, and therefore a Servant and an Ambassador of Her Majesty, I am always polite, even in extremely tense situations like this one (given my astounding composure, I should become a hostage negotiator. I would be amazo at that, and I could defo turn those ISIS peeps around. Tweet me, Barack and Dave). So I said to the B, “Thank you, that is really immensely kind of you, but the checkout girl has already packed my things, and it would be an insult and a burden for her to have to re-pack them. But thank you. Really.”

As I spoke, I gave her my very pretty Kate Middleton smile.

Ha! That told her!! Her high-horse clearly wouldn’t let her waste the time of a lower worker. Haha!! Own-goal there, dearie. Hahahahahaha : )

The fact remains, though, that non-expats can also in addition as well be total a-holes, too. Take, for example, my cousin Clara.

[Abso no offence Clara, but during our conversation today you were a complete C to me, and you really had no right to talk to me like that.]

When we were skyping earlier, I was telling Clara that I thought my helper’s bras were a little risqué (I see them on the washing line if I am ever in that part of the house), so I am thinking of ordering her to dispose of said items and buy more conservative breast support-wear. Clara responded that I have “no right to dictate what she wears under her clothes” (wtf?), and even when I expressed my concern that she may have a hot skype paypal business (why else would she need these garments? Surely she doesn’t have a boyfriend… that’s not allowed here), Clara took the help’s side against mine! She said that my helper “is an adult and can wear whatever she chooses, if it doesn’t affect her employment with me”.

Oh, Clara. You seem so knowledgable/ know-it-all, but I am beginning to wonder if you have any clue what the real world is like. No offence. Mwa Mwa, cuz xox

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P.S. Clara, your page about On the Skype Couch has only had a couple hundred hits in the last few weeks, so I decided to remove you from the page name. It’s much more impressive with just my name, and I’ve already noticed a surge in hits since I cut you out.

A Tale of Two Husbands

Another stressful couple of days, dear reader(s).

One of the yoga places I go to that I really rate (and my rating should not be under-estimated in its value, given that I am an accomplished lifelong yogi, and can do the crow pose) is on Orchard, not far from my house. It’s one of those very earnest and spiritual, but warehousey-cool places (so cool they don’t provide any means of drying your hands after using the loo – I love that nonconformity!), where the atmosphere is befittingly sombre and dignified. I can’t stand it when people don’t take their practice seriously.

I really needed to go this evening because it has been a serio stresso couple of days. As it turned out though, even the yoga was mega-stresso! There was a girl there, late twenties/ early thirties, all skinny and dressed up in her Lulu Lemon, like she has even the faintest idea of what yoga is really about. It’s not about the clothes, honey!!

When we were doing the tree pose she kept peering at me, like, can you hold this as long as I can? I held it AND I closed my eyes, which is a very difficult thing to do, as any experienced yogi would know. I flickered them open occasionally to check out how she was doing. Haha, lo and behold she was trying to close her eyes too, but kept losing her balance. Oh you silly girl! It takes a lot of serenity, loving karma, and oneness with the universe to achieve the closed-eye tree pose, sweetheart. Stupid b****.

So anyway, yes, serio stressoso time right now.

Don got back yesterday. The children greeted him like he was some kind of hero, returning victorious from battle. Come on, I’m the one who has spent the last week in battle! With those little ingrates.

Froo Froo dog is, I suspect, developing dog borderline personality disorder. That’s the most difficult disorder to work with in humans, Clara says. So, in dogs, I dread to think what we are going to do. I would welcome any suggestions. (And, don’t forget, you can follow me on twitter @expatej)

After the children were in bed, Don passed out. Great, sweetie. So good to have you home.

Having run out of floss, I went into his washbag (Don is a passionate flosser) to find his. I found something else though…

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And it was half-empty!! What fresh hell is this???

I mailed Don immediately to address the situation. I’m not one to let these things fester. It’s not good for my chi.

He rang me to say that it has always in his washbag, and I must have forgotten we used to use it, it has been so long. Excuse me, what now, now??? OK, that does ring a bell when I think about it, but taking it on a work trip? Hmmmmmmm.

Then something quite shocking happened, dear reader:

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I didn’t respond, but I can imagine that Michelle – much as I adore her ridic-amundo – is a nightmare wife, so I do feel for Bill. He seems like a nice guy, despite everything. I used to think Michelle was just a really fun lady. Now I’m starting to wonder what it must be like to be live with her 24/7. Flo told me she starts drinking in the morning! Argh!! No wonder she needs so much botox.

Oh dear, what a messed up day. I’m so glad I have a massage booked first thing tomorrow. FYI, the massage is at the Hyatt, of which I am now an Official Member. Having so arduously struggled with deciding which club to join, I realised that I needed to prioritise Me in this difficult process of remaining sane under duress. So, I joined the Hyatt rather than bothering with all the other clubby nonsense. So far, so good. It could do with a refurb, but I’m not one to make a scene.

Are Expat Kids Lucky?

Because of my interest, and growing expertise, in psychology, I have decided to start a new page, to discuss issues faced by expat children. From what I hear, some expat children and young people struggle with the transitions, so I want to explore that. Not my kids, of course. They’re totally well-adjusted and we’ve never had any trouble from them. They don’t even mind long haul flights; they just sleep, especially if I give them that anti-allergy stuff.

Saying that, since we got back from the UK in the summer, Milly has started kicking the dog, which is unlike her. She’s quite big (not fat, you understand, just bigger than other kids her age, probably because she was exclusively breastfed), and the dog is quite small.

So I’m not sure what that’s about. I hope she stops soon. The dog hopes so too LOL : )

Anyway, because I don’t have any readers’ questions, I thought I would start this page by asking Clara what she thinks is an important issue for expat kids, and then discuss that. She mailed me yesterday, and we had our first Skype session, hence… (drum roll please lol!)….. On the Skype Couch with Emma-Jane. My first topic is whether expat kids are lucky, and you can read it here.

 

EJ on ISIS

I am extremely concerned about, and tremendously baffed by, this whole ISIS business. I am very much anti-war, but I do make an exception when it’s about protecting innocent civilians, and preserving our decent way of life.

I also love shopping in NYC, so I absolutely dread anything happening there again; and I have a school friend in DC, so that would would be terrible too. Plus, I’m so worried for my expat friends in the UAE. It’s bad enough that it’s so hideously hot there, but having this to contend with too?! Awful.

And then there’s London of course. I have friends who use the tube regularly. Not to mention what it would do to the value of our house and our rental properties in town. We are hoping that by being non-doms we will escape that dreadful capital gains tax when we sell, but if the property market takes a dive before then, that tax saving could get swallowed up : (

It’s all v worrying.

I’m also v confused about the term “ISIS”. Or IS? Or is it ISIL? I read an interesting article, but feel none the wiser really:
http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/09/12/347711170/isis-isil-or-islamic-state-whats-in-a-name

When I was skyping with Clara, we got talking about it, and she said some equally interesting, but equally baffling things about the situation. She was talking about the concept of “The Other” (?), and said that as humans, we like to club together in our tribes (hmmm, which tribe am I in? None! I’m in the EJ tribe!), and we subconsciously (or did she say unconsciously..?) create an “other” – like an us versus them thing.

So, according to Clara, inside each of us is our idea of ourselves and people who are like us, and then this other idea of the opposite: not ourselves and people who aren’t like us. I’m not sure I agree because I just see the whole world as one big human family : )

Anyway, Clara says that because it’s all unconscious and symbolic (?), we need something or someone concrete to make it real, “to embody that Other”, as she put it, so that we can think and take action. (That’s where you really lost me, lovely cuz!)

She says that our governments have made it concrete by doing a kind of re-branding, like a failing business might do when it’s trying to re-market itself. Clara thinks that whereas before it was Saddam, and then it was Osama, now they have re-branded the “Other” as the IS.

I dunno, Clara. I think you might be over-thinking the whole thing as usual.

I’m just glad that this time it’s not about our troops wading in and putting themselves at risk, but instead it’s about helping the poor old locals to help themselves. I know a lot of people who would agree with me on that, including people who were very much anti-war before, when Clara’s “Others” were Saddam and Osama.

Expat Kids

I was Skyping yesterday with my cousin in the UK, Clara. She’s a v cool and v knowledgeable woman. She started out as a clinical psychologist (I should have done psychology instead of blooming law because I’m so empathetic; often I can just tell that people are sad or upset without them even saying they are), and then she became a full-on psychotherapist – she trained at the Tavistock so she knows her onions – specialising in children.

Because of the 6-month counselling course I did, and my natural empathy, Clara and I have some great chats about expat kids. She was an expat kid herself, and although I don’t always agree with all the stuff she comes out with (no offence Clara, but sometimes therapists can just be so know-it-all and patronising… Not you Clara!! Love ya!), she has some super interesting insights.

So after talking to her, I was thinking that I might do another course in child psychology. Maybe a much longer, more in-depth one this time, like a year.

What I’m also thinking is that I could add a page to my blog of Clara and Emma-Jane discussing expat kid issues. Then people could send in their questions, and I could ask Clara for her expert opinion, as well as adding my own perspective, from an expert expat on the ground, as it were, thereby developing my abilities as a psychologist. I could call it On the Skype Couch with EJ and Clara.

Leave a comment if you have anything you would like me to ask Clara about expat kid issues!