Expat Marriages Suck, Part Three

or Phoenix From The Flame

In my confusion, this evening I at least managed to drag myself to yoga, the class that Seth goes to. (I think it might fit in with my schedule after all.) Whilst doing the Warrior Pose, I started thinking about all the horror and my arms began to shake and sink towards the floor. But then I felt strength, like a bolt of lightening, rising up from my feet, up through my shapely legs, and hips, and into my arms, until my whole body was glowing from the inside out. Vikram looked briefly alarmed, and asked if I was ok. Seth noticed too, of course, giving me a tiny gentle nod.

When the rest of the class moved on to the next pose, I said to Vikram that I’d like to stay in Warrior a while longer. By this point, the glow had risen to my head as well, and there it was: I found my missing thinking cap. And it was no meagre, flimsy thing. It was a crown of shimmering flames, calcinating my pain into ashes of realisation.

I knew then that I have to find a lawyer. I will ask the wise ladies on the Real Singapore Expat Wives Facebook group, and the Flying Solo group. The problem is the money as it’s not easy for me to get large sums under the radar from our joint account, but my crown offered immediate reassurance, telling me to sell whatever I can. That dampened my mood a little. It’ll be horrendous to say goodbye to my handbags and watches. Needs must, though. Needs must.

I got home tonight and am having some Veuve Click on the roof terrace. I’m fighting off the desire to Whatsapp Clara, but fight, I must. Given her obvious nefarious intent and shameful betrayal of my trust, she would of course tell Don that I know. I can’t let that happen before I have a plan in place. I refuse to give her the satisfaction of being an accessory to my assassination.

 
 

You are my cloak against the elements, dear babeses

You are my cloak against the elements, dear babeses

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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!!

Facebook Drama!!

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Babeses, a shocking thing has occurred. The week before last I posted a few gorgeous photos of myself on my awesome Facebook page, and one of my “likers” made some unkind, and frankly totes untrue, comments about my physique. So I hastily took steps to remedy the situation and expelled the commentator from my awesome page. I did this in my quest for justice, not at all out of desires for revenge. I’m a lot like Ghandi in that respect. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and stuff. The intention behind my endeavours is always benevolent and giving, with no expectation of getting anything back. My aim is to generously share my fabulous life, and offer v wise advice from my expert expat perspective. I have never asked for anything in return for what is effectively voluntary service to the Expaterati of Singapore and beyond.

So. Imagine my horror when the expelled commentator (let’s call her Beyoncé – not her real name, but she obv thinks she’s Queen Bee) took it upon herself to set up her own Facebook page, and recruited my haters in retaliation for her expulsion. Yes babeses, I have haters : D! You know you’ve made it when you have haters!!

Her page, “The Most Awesome Expat Page in Singapore”, has grown at an astounding rate, which just goes to show how much I’ve made it if I have that many haters! Go me!! I know this is thusly therefore the case because I have read Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick’s The Art of Social Media.

Now that’s all well and good, because I respect everyone’s right to have and express different/ wrong opinions, and I am not one to belittle the work of others. What I take issue with is the content of her ridic page. Beyoncé basically uses everything I post, and either copies it or shares it like it’s her own (she has blatantly stolen my Mannequin Shenanigans concept), OR, and this is the kicker, she screenshots my material to her page, and attempts to make fun of me!! Of me!!! Mega-LOLs. Or not… She has even started a blog that parodies mine, and every time I publish a new post, she writes her own post about my post!! What now, now?! Hashtag too much time on her hands!, am I right, dear readers??

I, au contraire, have v limited time because I am busy living my glamorous life rather than mocking the lives of others. That’s just not my modus operandi.

As a quick update on said glamorous life, it looks like we are repatting, but still dunno, and am totes not sure how I feel about this. Can life be as glamorous in London? I don’t recall…

Don is also v busy, travelling a lot, and returning home to the irritants like a hero from the battlefields, with gifts and promises of staying up late, and of trips to Universal Studios.

Max’s Minecraft addiction continues apace, and he now does pretty much nothing else. Which is fine because it means we don’t have to worry about keeping him occupied. I heard this fascinating radio prog about kids and Minecraft (apparently it’s a thing in the UK too! Who knew?!), and that’s basically what it concluded too, I think: that if you just give the irritants free-reign with the game, we parents no longer have to suffer the burdensome responsibility of entertaining our children. So that’s great.

Neither Max nor Mills are now kicking Froo Froo dog. It’s partly because of the amazebobs dog therapy she had, and partly because the Froofster and the Millster are currently engaged with their respective modeling careers. High self-esteem is running rampant in our house these days! Froo Froo is doing some fantastic work with Oh My Beagle and Milly decided she wanted to get her career started too, given that she is halfway to five years’ old, and I completely support that. If I had started earlier, I would no doubt have been a super model, and I would’ve saved the photo editors a ton of time because I don’t need a lot of Photoshopping to look hot (as even Beyoncé knows, if she’s honest).

Angel, my step-daughter house-guest, has also been approached to model, but she says she wants to get on in her “own way”. Something about having her own plans?? To do with a thing called YouNow..? #baffed again. Oh well, she seems happy enough, so I keep out of her way. Her mother, Chantelle, is not making much progress it would seem. She still can’t accept the fact that my father has replaced her with a nice old dear in the home, to whom he thinks he has been married for decades. The old dear is a way better match, but Miss Chantilly just doesn’t get it. She’s hanging desperately onto the past as if that would make it come back. Never happens, babeses, am I right? Move on!! That’s my excellent advice.

The helper is acting a bit strangely, and her underwear on the washing line is getting racier by the day. I keep out of that too though. It’s not like she’s my responsibility or anything.

And me, I’m just doing my Thang, having beautiful times, staying hot, being a caring mother and wife, brunching, lunching, dinnering and partying with my Expaterati gangs. Next week I have a modelling job (yes, me!!), and I’m going to the ANZA ball. It’s all go! I’m also super-excited about the elections. Hopefully those nice Conservatives will get in again. I just loved what they did with our income tax rate. Maybe they’ll lower it even more, once they’re in!! And after a few fab years with them, I reckon Boris is a dead cert to be PM in the not too distant. Cannot wait for that! He really is a man of the people. Well, my people anyway.

Five Top Tips for Becoming an Expat Wife in Singapore

Moving country can be a difficult gig, but Singapore is one of the easiest places on the planet to move to as an expat wife. Here are my amazebobs tips, based on my expert expertise, and that of my genius Expaterati girlies:

1. Join the social networking groups as soon as you know you’re coming here

The Singapore Expat Wives group, or SEW, is the stuffier group, but it has a gazillion members. So as long as you’re asking for mundane advice (and please use the search button first to avoid roastage), you’re good to go.

The Real Singapore Expat Wives group is a bit grittier. It also has a gazillion members, and you can #anonymouspost about anything intimate or awkz.

Be warned though, sweet innocents, if you post something controversial on either page, you may be inviting upon yourself a sh** storm of biblical proportions. You won’t even necessarily know it’s controversial until it’s too late.

There are many many other awesome FB groups and pages, such as Woman Abroad in Singapore (interesting and quirky content that you won’t find elsewhere), Stork’s Nest (supportive and informative espacio for mothers), and Singapore Expat Women and Business (for um, women in business). Tons of fabulous FB stuff out there. Where oh where would we be without the book of the faces?

2. Forget everything you think you know about pricing

This is particularly true of cheese and alcohol. If you allow yourself to recall prices of such items in Europe, Oz or the US, you will find that guilt obstructs enjoyment, and that is simply unacceptable.

You must wipe from your brain all knowledge of non-Singaporean pricing. Should you agonise over ways around this problem, you will only be inviting more wrinkleage upon yourself. And Botox, ladees, is pretty damn pricey here too. So cut out the middle-woman. Practice pricing acceptance as part of your daily meditation regime.

If all else fails to justify freedom of expenditure, glut thy sorrows on the Seoul expat wife. Cheese is even more expensive there. Like f crazy expensive. Manchego?? Wave b’bye to the soft-top Maserati if manchego is your staple in South Korea.

3. The helper issue

It is not uncommon to arrive on these shores convinced that one will not engage live-in help; only to find oneself, some months later, engaging live-in help. If I had a Sing $ for every time that happened, I’d be even more fabulously wealthy than I already am. At least two Louis Vuits per season richer, and as dear readers will know, I am not one to embroider factualisation.

Despite the doubt you might arrive with that it cannot be virtually impossible to cost-effectively hire part or full-time help who live out, I’m afraid that it is indeed virtually impossible. The cost of a decently-salaried live-in equates to approx 15 hours per week part-time (wow, so many dashes in one sentence! I am rocking those dashes!!). Even if you’re thoroughly rolling in cash and bathing in Veuve Click, I think you’ll find that you might want to bite the bullet.

4. Get yourself an Expaterati gang

Living so far away from our family and old-school friendses, each and every one of us needs a gang. Several gangs is even better. We need babeses who are there for us in our moments of need, and lots of expat ladees are awesome at this. All you have to do is reach out, and before you know it, there will be babeses needing you right back.

Your gang will hook you up with other gangs (if they don’t, this is not a good gang), and raise new possibilities for you to spread your wings. Kite-surfing, gaming, knitting, pole-dancing, volunteering, kick-boxing, wine-tasting, writing, swinging, chess, yoga-zumba-lates, getting trolleyed with your girlies just because it’s Wednesday… An endless stream of undiscovered potential awaits your embrace.

You also need your gang(s) because you must not put all your eggs in the husband basket. This WSJ article just proves what I’ve said time and time again, that expat marriages are a tricky biz. Should your marital investments start to go offshore, identify one or two truly trusted sistas (not the whole gang) to confide in.

5. Work, don’t work, be a SAHM, or be a M who doesn’t SAH much

The choice is yours, and yours alone. Don’t let anyone tell you which path is the right one, or make you feel less of a humanoid hottie for what you decide to do with your time. But FFS, do what makes you happy (yes, I should be a life coach, but I don’t have time right now).

If you choose to brunch, lunch, pedi, and sun yourself by the pool, do it with gusto, not guilt. Particularly as mammasitas, guilt is a killer, so while you’re doing your utmost to be a good enough mum/ mom to your irritants, get out there and be a good enough sista to yourself. Own it!! Irritants grow up, you know, and when they do, we must not have become dried up anxious old prunes with no other passions. In the timeless words of Voltaire, tend to your garden, babeses. That applies to belowdecks too. Tend to those gardens. Vigorously.


As a brief précis, that about covers the essential points. There are 64 others in my full draft version, but the ones above will pack neatly into your ludicrously expensive carry-on Rimowa, and serve you well while you’re figuring out the rest. Good luck, stay in touch, and viva la Expaterati!!

Join the Expaterati

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