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!!

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Two Awful Little Expat Words: We’re Leaving

Since Tuesday, Don has gradually started speaking to me again. It was getting pretty hashtag awkz, with young Angel around. It’s bad enough having marital issues in the presence of little kids like Max and the Millster, but 16-year-olds apparently pick up on the vibe more strongly, even if they “present otherwise” (thus spake cousin Clarathustra the psychologist). Pathetically, Don used Angel as his excuse to resume our speakage (p***y), telling me, “It must be hard for her to be so far away from her mother, her friends, and her normal life. I don’t want to make it any harder for her, with us not talking”.

[Um, us not talking?? It’s him who hasn’t been talking to me! I’ve just been not talking right back!!]

As if I don’t know “how hard it must be”! FFS, I gave up my friends, my family, and my career to come out here. Ok, so I have always wanted to be an expat wife, and I wake up every day to an enviable lifestyle with awesome weather, endless social engagements, and full-time help. That doesn’t mean I don’t get how hard it is!! If you cut me, do I not bleed?! Plus, being the incredibly empathic person that I am, I can’t avoid feeling for what Angel is going through. In fact, I have decided to do a second On the Skype Couch With Emma-Jane (and cousin Clara) to highlight the very important issues facing children and young people in global transition.

Anyway, so Don starts talking to me again, and after a few mundanities like, “Can you please put floss on the shopping list?”, and a transparent attempt at ingratiation, “Your hair looks nice, have you had it done?” (yes, like four days ago!!), last night he said the following spectacularly unexpected thing: “EJ, my next role is firming up. It’ll most likely be Europe or the U.S. So we’ll be leaving Singapore this summer… Or some time in the next two to six months. You knew that anyway, right?”

No, I don’t exacto recall knowing that!!

Because of our precarious relational situation, I smiled my loveliest Kate Middleton smile, nodded a ton, and – as Don left for a work night out – went swiftly to my meditation corner with the Buddha water feature and a nice Nag Champa burn. Once there, I popped open a bottle of Veuve Click (I must’ve grabbed it from the wine fridge along the way), fumbling somewhat due to the tears cascading make-up grease onto my trembling fingers. Nearly dropping the bottle, I commanded my inner adult to pull herself together. When that command failed, I sat down. Abandoned to my grief, I wept.

(And today, I’m wondering if he has just conjured up this moving stuff to avoid talking about Liz? Seems a little drastic, but that’s men for you…)

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Wuzgunna Men

So, Don is not a perfect husband (especially with this new-found stinginess, and the mysterious lube incident), but I would like to tell you a little about an important boxee he ticked when it came to not marrying a man like my father.

I had a Wuzgunna father. Everything he never did for me was what he wuzgunna do.

He wuzgunna take me to the zoo.
He wuzgunna buy me an ice cream.
He wuzgunna help me with my maths homework.
He wuzgunna invite my first boyfriend round to vet him.
He wuzgunna ask his old boys network if I could do a mini-pupillage at any of their law firms (which didn’t happen, so I decided not to go down the barrister route).
He wuzgunna not be away for my birthdays. Every year he wuzgunna do that, until I boarded, and then he still wuzgunna, but had a better excuse not-ta.

He wuzgunna be there when Mummy started her cancer treatment, and when my sister had the twins.

Their whole marriage, he wuzgunna be on time. But was he ever, Mummy?

He was, however, on time for all their appointments with the divorce lawyer, and on the day of his second wedding.

My “step mother” (oh please) is six years younger than me. Yes, six. She’s a retired professional gymnast, and an ex-Miss Australia (vom). When my father exchanged work for golf, they moved to Australia. Mummy went back to England, after 40 years as an expat.

My father and Chantelle (or Chantilly, as he calls her, pronounced Shont-i-lee double vom vom) live in Noosa now, which I’ve heard is quite nice. They have invited us to come and stay, and I wuzgunna, but then I realised something: I totes don’t wanna.

So this, dear reader, is why I married Don. Don is a man of his word. If he says he’ll be home at 7 o’clock, he walks through the door at 6.55.

The fact remains though that Don is still a man. And Ladies, all men will, in the end, let you down. The higher your expectations, the further you will tumble. You can’t pin your hopes and dreams on these people, you know. Even the ones who aren’t Wuzgunnas eventually ain’t gunna. Trust me. The trick is not to care too much. (I should also think about becoming a couples counsellor. I could really help people work on their marriages because I understand the male psyche so well.)

I used to feel horribly upset and worried about Don running off with some bit of fluff, but now I have realised that, if that’s the foolish choice he makes, it would by no means be the end of me.

Anyway. I’ve decided to see Will tomorrow. The timing is perfect because Don leaves in the morning for Sydney. Not that there’s anything dodgy about meeting a friend for a drink, just because that friend happens to be a guy.

He got in touch last Saturday:

 

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So, he wants to drill me for WordPress tips because he has started writing a blog about fishing. Yawnicus! I’m happy to share my expertise with him though. (Wish I understood this “SEO” thing! Blogger-luvvies, what’s all that about?? HELP!!) Hopefully he just wants to know my expertise about the basics.

I also agreed to see him because I want some support with my project this Friday. I could do with a man’s input on my important feminist mission. Since missing the deadline to apply for Mrs Expat Singapore, I realised that this kind of objectification of women is simply unacceptable. I cannot, will not, stand idly by while women, be they members of the expaterati or otherwise, are ritually humiliated and commodified like this.

On a final note, I am totes luvvin the furore about Kim Kardashian’s humongous oily bits. Ridic!! You go, girlie! Personally I wouldn’t want to have such an unfeasibly large bottom because I would be afraid of toppling over, but if she likes it, and can stay upright unassisted, then well done her. More power to you, Mrs KWest! Luv ya, babes. When are you coming to visit us in Singapore??

I am not one to stand in judgement over others – that’s not my modus operandi – but anyone who disagrees with my perspective on KK is v silly, v insecure, and just mega bigtime wrong.