Expat Friendses & Not So Much Friendses

I got back to Singapore today, with two cases full of fabulous London fashion, hot off the racks. Ok so I was somewhat stung on import tax, but as long as I don’t tell Don, it basically didn’t happen. Am I right, Ladeez? Yes, I am right.

It was lovely to see Max, Mills, and Don after my week away, but even lovelier to wave them off to their respective daytime occupations, and then slink elegantly back to bed. Jet lag can be such a killer. It could take me days to return to a normal sleeping routine – possibly even weeks! I have only my lucky stars to thank that I felt sufficiently together to rise in time for a high tea with my Expaterati girlies.

What I did not expect about said tea was that both Liz and Michelle were there. But you betrayed us and got a job, Michelle ma belle, so what the hell are you doing at a high tea?! You don’t even drink Veuve Click anymore, babes, due to the whole being a “recovering” alcoholic thing (can’t last). Very bizarro.

I found myself sitting opposite Liz, with Michelle to my right, and gorgeous (actual friend) Flo to my left. Liz would not stop talking about how clever she is, trying to discuss some bit of whatevs she’d read in the NYT. Something to do with women being made to feel bad about their bodies, so that people can make money out of fixing the source of badness. What now, now? I wasn’t aware that we feel bad about our bodies. What’s to feel bad about, as long as you dedicate every waking hour to looking super hot until you draw your last breathe?? Mystery to me.

Liz, though, totes agreed with the story, and went on and on, quoting verbatio: “Show me a body part, I’ll show you someone who’s making money by telling women that theirs looks wrong and they need to fix it”. Could she not just send us all the link and be done with it, rather than bore everyone ridic?? God, she thinks she’s all that. She annoyed me so much that I got my iPhone 6 out of the beautiful McQueen Heroine tote I that bought last week, and, cupping the phone discreetly, I showed Flo the photos I have of Liz and her enormous snatch. Hilariously, bless her, Flo gasped and tried (failed) to raise her eyebrows, but kept right on listening to Liz’s NYT monologue, as if nothing had happened.

Next Michelle piped up, having apparently also read the article. (Don’t these people have LIVES??) She said that even though she’s in the business of pubic beautification, i.e. vajazzling, her work is “very much a celebration of femininity… a centuries-old adornment practice by women, for women”, yada yada yada. I switched off at that point because it occurred to me that I’m over-due for a Brazilian.

“So although I agree that the media and the increasing need to up the stakes, as it were, in the face of images that were only recently considered to be pornographic becoming mainstream… I still believe that there is a difference between internalised misogyny and a woman’s own desire to celebrate her body”, continued Michelle.

Having put an alert in my phone to schedule a wax, I started listening to that last bit and thought, “Oh yeah, sweets, well you’re so bloody knowledgeable about internalised misogyny and all that, but how much exacto do you know about your husband?!”

It’s all very well getting the full digital subscription to global news publications to make yourself look like a smarty-hottie-pants, but if you don’t even know what’s going on under your nose job, then HELLOOOO!!! Can I drop you a bone here?!

So that’s when it came to me. A stroke of pure honeyed genius. Manuka, babeses. Sweet, sweet Manuka.

As I thought about how profoundly irritating both Liz and Michelle are in the depthses of their beingses, I realised that I hold important news items about both of them. News that is not available via subscription. I know that Liz is a psycho husband-stalker with an acute case of vagenitical cunticulitis, because I have photographic evidence. And I know that Michelle’s husband Will is a serial player, because last year I experienced first-hand an attempt by him to assault my marital dignity.

So while the women were playing Who’s the Cleverest?, I came up with a divine win-win plan. I <3 win-wins. I decided to message Will asap with a polite request to tail Liz at times of my choosing, in order to find out wtf she’s up to. If she is sending these naked photos to Don, she may well be doing the same with other husbands, whose wives are probably less emotionally robust than me. I am all about the giving and the rescuing, so I cannot – nay will not – stand idly by while this woman attempts to wreak her nasty havoc on otherwise blissful expat marriages.

As part of my polite request, I’ll tell Will that, should he fail to comply, I can happily forward to Michelle screenshots of his flirtatious communications with me*. I might also inform her that I saw him last year with a petite Asian girlie, whom I realise now was most definitely not his half-sister.

Good plan, babeses and dear readers? Yes, lah. Amazebobs plan : )

I’d better go now because I only have a tiny slot of me time between the high tea and my evening date with a brand new BFF I met on the flight. You won’t believe what happened!! I can scarcely believe it myself. On the flight back from London, I was sitting next to a Russian chick. Yes, of course, I had spotted her from a mile off when we were both at the Terminal Two branch of Gucci, but the totes crazy thing is that we got chatting on the pihengi (that’s the phonetic pronunciation of airplane in Korean, spelt like this: 비행기, and you’d be wise to learn some Korean, babeses, don’t ask why, just trust me! They’re taking over the world, these Koreans!!), and…

I LOVE this Rrrrra-shon girlie!!!

Who’d have thought that I could fall in friend luv with someone so #bogan #newmoney #marriedtoabillionaire #yellowjeans #bling?!! I know, right??! But when we got talking, we just had so much in common! To the extent of spooky!!

Just like moi, she lives a glamorous life in Singapore, on the same iconic street as me (where has she been hiding?!), her kids are the same age as mine, her husband smokes Siglo VI Cohibas at the same cigar bar as Don, and we are both life-long dedicated yogis with an intense fondness for the tree pose. AND her d.o.b. is the first of April 1976, too! Unbelievable spookinesco.

So I’m meeting up with her in an hour to test out our unlikely friendship. Her name is Anastasia Jovakova. I think it’s a great testimony to my cultural objectivity that I am opening my friendship doors to a blingy Rrrrrra-shon. Don’t you agree? That’s what’s so awesome about expats: we totes connect with people who we might otherwise have seen as trash. Go, us! Viva La Expaterati!!!

 

* From last November. Pretty flirtatious, wouldn’t you say?…

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Shocking Expat Unfoldments, Part Three

As loyal readers will know from the Shocking Unfoldments Part One and Part Two, a triumvirate (credit for that word to a gorgeous expat reader friend in India – thanks, babes!) of crappiness occurred last week. In order to keep my chi in balance, I have needed to deal with each horror in my own good time. Had I faced them all at once, I dread to think how gravely I could have neglected my punishing beauty and wellness regime. Of course, this degree of self-deception is not part of my modus operandi, but needs mustses.

Self-deception aside, Part Three really isn’t that bad because it can’t possibly be truesome. There must be a perfectly reasonable explanation for the naked pics of Liz on Don’s iCloud. Given our state of perpetual marital bliss, I am certain that an error has hereby occurred (like that other error where I didn’t win the blog competition – what tf were they thinking to not choose moi??).

So I will thusly share with you the next shocking unfoldment.

Having explained at length to the help how to delete items from Max’s iPad – specifically Breaking Bad and all the other vids that synced from Don’s iCloud – I decided to take matters into my own hands. I did this in the name of parenting excellence (and also to get some nice selfies of Max and I doing his iPad homework together, to demonstrate that I don’t outsource everything to the help).

Whilst being an excellent, homework-doing parent with Max, I happened to accidentally click on iPhotos, and there before my astounded eyes was… Liz and her enormous fanny!!! And not in the American sense of the word! What fresh merry hell is this, I thought! Literally, her whole huge snatch, just out there!!

Being the calm, open, liberal person that I am, I dropped the iPad, let out a gasp and a shriek upon seeing Liz so intimately depicted, and ran from the room, arms flailing elegantly. Max clicked back to Minecraft, happily enough.

Once the irritant had left for school, I got hold of his iPad again, and this time had a good shufti at the synced photos. Dear readers, my horrification was unprecedented. I saw far more of Liz’s snatch than any living being ought to see. Based on the photographic evidence, I am concerned for her health. She is obviously suffering from vagenitical cunticulitis, in a bad way.

Haha!! Mega-LOLs!!! It just makes me laugh now! What is particularly hilario about all of this is that these pornographic photos clearly reveal that Liz is a deluded husband-stalker with some major issues.

Anyhoo. What I did was delete the offending material, emailing one to myself of course, should I need it when I next see Liz. I decided there was no point in addressing the issue with Don. No need to upset the apple cart, am I right, dear readers? Yes, I am.

Then I had my fabulous glamour photo shoot, to give Don the pics as a Valentine’s gift next week. The photos are, though I am not one too blow my own horn, totes AMAZEBOBS. Much more tasteful than Liz’s grotesque effigies. Take that, Liz!!

I had better dash off now because I need to do my daily 10,000 steps, and I’ve only clocked up 3,872 so far today. Can’t fall behind the other girlies in the Fitbit stats! These expat women are just so competitive!! It’s ok though because I wanted to have a good long walk in my fabulous new shoes. They look super-comfortable, don’t they?

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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.

Mummy’s Expat Visit

Well, it has been an idyllic few days, now that Mummy is with us, in the bosom of our happy little family. Except Friday, that is. Her first full day here, I was really terribly ill, so I had to stay in bed until dinner time. I totes don’t know what was wrong, but I was completes knocked for sixes. It can’t have been the sangria because nothing red ever disagrees with me due to the de facto fact that red things synergise with my hair. Perhaps it was a 12-hour mini-bout of the dreaded mycoplasma. I just don’t know.

My absence was no prob though. It turns out that Mummy, too, has a new BFF: our helper! Argh!! Embarrassando!!! I hope it won’t get out among the Singas Expaterati. (I can see from my WordPress stats that I have almost no readers in Singapore, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.)

Although Mummy visited us twice previously, it was when we had our old helper, Maria, so she hadn’t met the current one. Unfortunately, we had to let Maria go. The problem was that Milly’s first word was “Maria”. Lordy knows, I tried to overlook the matter, I really did. I thought for a long while that Milly had a speech impediment (inherited from Don, presumably), and that she was trying to say, “Mummy”, but it kept coming out as, “Maria”. Eventually it became clear that this was not at all the case. So Maria had to go. I didn’t tell the children (or Maria, until the cab had arrived to take her to the airport while Max and Mills were at school), and I immediately hired a replacement who met my requirements, including lactation. I can’t bear the sight of clinging, crying children. It super upsets me.

Anyhoo, back to the now.

For some reason, Mummy had reverse jetlag, and woke up on Friday morning full of beans, and raring to go. Once the children were packed off, Mummy asked the helper if she could give her a refresher tour of a few places: China Town, Arab Street, and Little India. They also did the fab boat ride from Robertson Quay down to the Merlion, and somehow managed to squeeze in lunch at… wait for it… a Philippine restaurant at Lucky Plaza!!! Utter weirdness, given how many fabulous eateries there are here. She hadn’t let on, but apparently my mother has been learning Tagalog in her extremely ample free time. What now, now?!!

So the disgraceful upshot is, she and the help are bezzie mates, which I find mega-inappropes, and I know you’ll agree with me, dear readers (comments always welcome, PLEASE I AM BEGGING YOU TO COMMENT. WHAT DO YOU WANT, BLOOD?!!). I only heard about all of this when I sashayed down the stairs in my negligée on Friday evening, to find the two of them and the children in fits of laughter, speaking Tagalog! Mummy started to reel off the details of their day, and I told the helper, in no uncertain terms, to get back to work, and put Max and Milly to bed immediately. Froo Froo dog looked as relieved as I felt, once the irritants had been spirited away to the upper floors. I couldn’t have all that loud laughing and speaking helper-lingo. The adjoining courtyards in shophouses create a noise vacume, and we have highly auspicious neighbours on both sides because that’s the type of person who lives in my area. What would they think??

I considered having a word with Mummy to explain that this new found friendship of hers is totes not on, but then she produced all the stuff I’d asked her to get me from Harvey Nix, and I remembered what a sweet and doting mummy she truly is. I suggested going out for a slap-upski dinner somewhere, my treat, but bless her, her reverse jetlag had re-reversed itself, and she said she needed to get her beauty sleep. And from what I saw, she really mega did.

We finished our lovely chat about everything she had brought for me – we bond so well over Alexander McQueen – and she tootled off to bed in our Shangrila guest room. I wasn’t tired though, and the mini-mycoplasma had miraculously cleared up. I checked Facebook and saw that CJ was at a bar on my street (he’s an avid FB poster, which I LUUUUV), so I popped on some slap and killer heels, and off I went for another night of the usuo awesome fun-ness. I knew I couldn’t be out too late because of Milly’s birthday party the next day, but I can totes hold my bevvies, so two bars and a pool party later I can honestly say that I was FINE when I got home at 4. About 4. It was probably 4.

Mills’ party in the kiddie area of the Marina Bay Sands casino was nothing short of the best Expaterati kiddie party everrrrr. All of my genius fantastico plans worked out exactly as strategised, and the glam mummies in attendance so obvioso knew that the bar has now been raised to FEEERGET IT, IT’S IMPOSS TO BEAT THIS, BABY!!!! It was written all over their faces. Who says that botulism prevents authentic expression?? I’m so intuitive and empathic though, perhaps only I could have picked it up. (If I become a celebrity instead of a life coach, will all my wisdom be wasted? Shame, as my beautiful mucho-loved South African moved to Canada friend would say. Mwa Mwa, luv ya!)

The party was amazebobs, and probably the best one of the decade past, as well as the decade to come. At 6 PM the children (and my mother) got shipped out in limos and SUVs, so that the mummies could have a proper chat about helpers, husbands, handbags, and holidays. I’d booked an after-party table at Ku Dé Ta, which, according to my sources, was supposed to be next to where David Becks was dining. The Beckster was nowhere to be seen, but who should I encounter in the lift up..? The doors swooshed open at the 33rd floor, and there stood Will.

I’m so exhausto now that I can barely type. I’ll have to get back to you about what happened Sat night. Plus Don just got home from his trip, so I’d better go be the wifey. You know what I’m saying, Expaterati ladeeees!!!!

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Bikini Party, Babeses!

Hotness

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Em
GEE, peeps!
I had the MOST amazebobs Thursday, when I went to this seminaked competition at a totes coolio groovalicious clothes shop on Orchard Road. Guess who won, babeses… Yes, moi!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

99 other people also won, but given that there are 5.47 million bods in Singapore who are perfectly capable of wearing bikinis, I think I can safely say: NAILED IT!!!

Hells-ya, I did!!

It wasn’t that easy, actually. I had to get up at ridic o’clock to arrive by 7 AM (I’m only a five minute walk away, but I had to straighten and pouffe my hair.) I chatted to lovelies in the queue, made some new besties (super fun buff gay guys, and finally, more local friendsies!!), and suddenly it was time for the shop doors to open. Then we had to run round in our tinies, choosing clothes. The choosing bit was almost as tricky as getting up before 9 AM! Their clothes are so me, and I looked incrediblé hot in literally everything I tried on. Literally. Totes literalmenté.

New local gal pal

New local gal pal

Anyhoo, I eventually chose something fab, and fought my way through the paps clamouring for my attention (maybe I should become a celebrity instead of a child psychologist, writer, historian and life coach), to the exit. One of my new gay BFFs, CJ, was standing outside looking awesome, and he said, “Like, let’s grab some lunch, bitch!”, and I said, “Like, totes let’s, bitch!”

So, like, we did! And his besties came too. We went to PS Café Ann Siang Hill which is my new fave hangout. CJ is hilarious! I had the best time, just chatting, chilling, and drinking rosé and berries sangria. Then I checked my ludicrously expensive watch – I was just admiring how it glints so nicely in certain light, not looking at the time – and saw it was 6 PM. OOOPSY. I had told the help I’d be home by midday.

While I was having sucho mucho fun times, Mummy’s flight landed. I think around 9.30. Annoying timing, Mutha! I did tell her to change it because Singapore Air is never late, but she said she didn’t want to “go to all that bother”. (Selfish.)

It wasn’t a major inconvenience though because the helper got the bus to Changi, with a sweet sign the children made: “GLAMMY GAMMY” in big letters, so that Mummy would recognise her.

Once I realised how late it was, I gave my new GBFF lots of air kisses and dashed off home. I tried to think of a good excuse for my absence, but then I thought WHAT?? I’m not a kid anymore! Just because Mummy flew 5,000 miles to see me, it doesn’t mean I need to curtail my sosh activities from a prior engagement. Plus CJ knows TV people, so that’s my career we’re talking about.

Besides she’s really coming to see the kids, and they were home before I was, so no prob.

I walked into the house, expecting to find jet-lagged Mummy reclining on a chaise longue in the downstairs front living room, but instead I was greeted by the sound of raucous laughter from the upstairs rear living room. From Mummy, and, get this, the help!! What now, now?!

So, there was my mother with her G & T and chamomile tea chaser, Max playing Minecraft, and Mills asleep on the Froofster (who looked too traumatised to move), while the helper laughed uncontrollably at whatever stupid thing Mummy had just said. Thankfully, I was so overjoyed to see Mummy after such a long time that I was able to ignore the gigantic boundary transgression which was happening under my own roof. I thought she understood about not fraternising with the help!! She had thousands of staff in her expat days.

The helper disappeared as soon as I arrived, looking embarrassed, and off she went to wash the car and clean the shoes. Too right!

I had a lovely catch-up with Mummy, hearing about her aqua aerobics gang and her online scrabble shenanigans. Mega-LOLs. While we were trying to talk, Max and Milly kept interrupting, showing her their artwork and their Mandarin homework. Egotistical little irritants!!

I’m just happy that I’ve signed them up for an awesome speech and drama holiday camp during part of the break, so that they won’t completely monopolise Mummy’s limited time here. My Harvard friend who is some know-it-all about childhood development and stuff recommended it. She says it’s the best way for kids to learn, and this place is fab. Whatevs, sweets. If they’ll take the irrits off my hands for a few days, let’s do this thang, babeses.

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P.S. (not the café lol) As you know, I’m never one to blow my own trumpet. I just wanted to let you know that I made the national paper here. I’m a page three girl! Go me!!!

From yesterday's The New Paper : )

From yesterday’s The New Paper : )

More hotness

More hotness

Hanging With My Expaterati Crew on an Average Sunday Avo

Considering that weekends are the worst time of the week for an expat wifey, this one hasn’t been too shabby.

I got a good chunk of time at the gym and by the pool yesterday, because Don took our spoilt little people to see Penguins of Madagascar at the Platinum Suites. Unfortunately, he forgot to take jumpers for them, to counter the fierce A/C, so even with the duvets, Milly got frostbite in one of her toes (which has curtailed her kicking of Froo Froo dog, so it’s not all bad), and Max came home with a nasty runny nose. UGH. I cannot stand snotty children. That was one of my reasons for wanting to exchange London for Singapore’s climate: so many snotsville children. Crouch End is positively awash with kiddie nose juice.

One problem with this climate though is the sweating. I don’t do it myself, of course, but lots of people do, most notably FMAWG*. Their petite Asian girlies don’t seem to mind, which is v odd because:

1. They don’t sweat themselves. Even in my Bikram class (that’s hot yoga, to my dear non-yogi readers).
2. Asian blokies also don’t do it.

So, I am serioso at a loss because why would you want to cross over to the FMAWG team, when your own team doesn’t do the disgusting sweating? Wait. Oh yes, silly me… KA-CHING!!! Haha, what was I thinking : )?!

Anyhoo, so in the evening we left Max and Mills with the help, dashing quickly out the door amidst sounds of hysterical crying from Milly about her toe, and sneezing from Max. Crikey-O-Riley, it was good to get out!! We went to Din Tai Fung for dinner – my current fave food go-to. I think I’m addicted to dumplings!! I can’t get enough of them (hence the extra gym time, babeses). I might need to spend a week or two at a detox farm in the Philippines next year, to de-dumpling myself!

In the last two weeks, I’ve been to every branch on the island at least once. I was a bit bummed at the Sentosa one though. They charge for water! Bit of a low blow, given that Singapore has such amazebobs tap water.

Then yesterday after Max’s golf and Milly’s ballet (golly, it was an uphill struggle forcing her into her point shoes with that frostbitten toe!), we went to the Tanjong Beach Club with our Expaterati Crew. Every expat should have a crew to hang out with, preferably several different ones, but one really solid one will do. We rocked up early enough for the family slot, and then when the pool closed to kids (3PM), our respective helpers arrived in cabs to schlep the irritants back home. We don’t always ask the help to work on Sundays, but this was an exception and she was handsomely rewarded, so she was more than happy to forfeit her day off. Thank phewy, as well, because after swimming for hours, Max’s cold was even worse. More snot!

Once they were gone, we hot mammas changed into our raunchiest cut-up swimsuits lah, switched from diet coke to margaritas, and got our Ibiza on!! Ya, baby! That’s how we roll at the T Beach Clurb on an otherwise average Sunday avo! Suck that up, rainy Londrés!!

Don left to get ready for his trip tomoz, and Liz had to go too because she ate some dodgy pepper crab last night, but otherwise the crew was out in full force (except Michelle and Will… WTF is up with them?). Take that, you volleyball-playing twenty-something posers! What we lack in skin tone, we make up for with our vast experience of long term hotness, and our amazebobs dance moves. You can’t get those 90’s moves vicariously. You had to be there!!

The more margaritas I had, the better I looked, and my groove got more and more smokin’.

So, I got home around 11 tonight, and opened a Veuve Click for a bit of a catch-up on Facebook. I can do that kinda thing because I’m off-duty tomorrow morning. Nothing until pilates and a late lunch date. One of my girlies had posted this super coolio thing that’s happening this week:

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I’m totes thinking I should go, having looked so great today. I could win that thing, right??

 

 

 

* FMAWG: Fat Middle-Aged White Guys (but my discussion on this topic includes the non-fat ones too)

Weekends Are the Mega-ly Worst Part of the Week

The weekend is abso the v worst time of the week for an expat wife. The awfulness kicks off first thing in the morning, when you have to get up megaly-early, or it looks like you’ve been having lie-ins all week. Saturday is bad, but with the helper’s day off, Sunday is soul-destroying.

A big part of the problem is having to spend too much time with the children. Well, Max tends to keep himself to himself, but I mean Milly really. The most annoying thing about Milly is that, for a three-year old she is extremely self-centred. She probably gets this from Don, but I suspect that there is also a link with the breastfeeding. Until she went on to solids, Milly was exclusively breastfed, and since then the only milk she has is still lady milk. Not from me, of course, but from the help. That was on my list of requirements when we hired her:

1. Must not eat spam
2. Must not be too hot
3. Must currently be lactating

It was a horrible shame, but I had to stop breastfeeding after five weeks because I just wasn’t seeing Milly often enough for her to rely on me for food (and pumping is too disgusting to persevere with unless you have a really great party to go to).

Max, au contraire, was only ever breastfed by yours truly (we didn’t have full-time help in the UK), and he has really turned out far nicer than Milly. Whereas she takes after Don, Max is totes more like me in most respects, beyond his passion for Minecraft. I feel certain that there is an interesting piece of research to be done there, to determine whether excessive breastfeeding – or the wrong type of milk?? – can turn a child into a nasty little dog-torturing turd. I think I should pursue it, as part of my future studies in child psychology.

Another problem with weekends is that the husbands just swan around, from golf to tennis to the cigar bar, and the wives have to take up the slack around them. They never want to come to social/ whole family engagements that either they or their assistant didn’t arrange. They don’t trudge the kids birthday party circuit, year in, year out. Yet, all of a sudden they’ll come up with the brilliant idea of taking the children to Universal Studios or something (UGH), and hey presto, they’ve won the best parent award.

Then it gets to the evenings, and we either have to go out or, worse, stay in. Nightmare. You hear all this self-pitying “flying solo” tripe from the single expat mothers (and I think you’ll find it should be flying solA, girls, didn’t you pay attention when you holidayed in Spain?), but frankly babeses, what you’ve got right there is a breeze.

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.

Awesome Fun-ness

I can’t write as much as I want to today because I am virtually on my knees from the mad social whirl of it all. This is such a busy time of year for the expaterati. It’s this period between Autumn (that’s Fall, Americans) break and Christmas when people aren’t travelling, and the “Social” section of my iCal is just bursting at the seams.

Hence my exhaustion and hurry! I went to an amazO brunch yesterday which lasted for 13 hours!! So I’m rather the worse for wear now, and have to dash off shortly to a pool party with Max and Milly. (OMG I haven’t told you that I resolved my stressful pool towel issue!! I ordered some from Orla Kiely in the UK. Awesomeness! More original and quirky than Lacoste, but still identifiable as premium designer goods by those in the know.)

Well, I say people aren’t travelling, but Don is, of course. Cape Town. So he missed my fabulous Halloween party. Which I KNOW you’re dying to hear about!! And I’m dying to tell you! But I’ve totes got to run, so I’ll give more deets mañana. Just a quickie highlights summary now.

So: I can quite comfortably say that the party was a ma-husive, unmitigated, rip-roaring success. Everyone said I did an amazing job. I got a ton of glowing feedback, and every time someone told me I was great, I did my really pretty Kate Middleton smile for them, and said that it was all down to my team. Bullshit of course. Those post-menopausal do-gooding hags were utterly f’ing useless. Especially Michelle.

The money we raised with the raffle surpassed my wildest fantasies. We had some lovely prizes which my team had extorted from their husbands. Canadian Cathy got us two nights in one of the Four Seasons at the Maldives worth $25,000 (flights and breakfast not included); American Amy donated a whole street of properties in Detroit, Michigan; and half-Lebanese Lana wangled first class flights with Emirates to Abu Dhabi. The ones with the onboard child-care! Whoop-whoop : )

After the raffle, we had this super interesting live interview with a guy in Sierra Leone who runs an Ebola call centre. I was able to tell him how much money we raised, and to reassure him that a vaccine is well on its way, thanks to me.

The best part of the night though was spending time with Will. More on that later, chaps!!

I <3 Feminism

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You may or may not be aware that I am a feminist. I have long been an active supporter of women’s causes across the globe, as well as a member of the Fawcett Society, on a rolling annual direct debit. That means I am definitely a feminist, fyi, should there be any unlikely doubt.

I think it’s awful that feminists are so often viewed as moustachioed man-haters, as this is not at all the case. I know some v beautiful feminists, many of whom opt for Brazilian waxing, and that’s ok, right? Of course it is! No one likes being hirsute down below.

I fully support a woman’s right not to have children (god knows, some days I wish I hadn’t!), as well as to choose when the best moment is, or is not. Let’s face it, there are far too many dangerous and stupid people born on this planet every day, and if it is women who ultimately control that, then we must do what we can to take a stand.

I also think that we sistas must not rely on men to take care of us. We must not let them steal our autonomy, and leave us for younger fools when we become post-menopausal angry old prunes. No!

The only reason I am not currently working is that I have to make sure the helper is looking after the children properly, while maintaining my figure and my spirit (for me) via a rigorous and time-consuming schedule of physical training, chanting, meditation, and socialising. Also, with Don’s job and the whole glass ceiling thing, he earns more than 99.99% of women in a similar role, and certainly more than I have ever made. So, you know, what’s the point??

Because of not currently working, I am hoping to join an amazing organisation here called AWARE. A friend of mine (who went to Harvard! Clever girl, you!! And gorgeous too, grrrrrrrr! So unfair!) says they do some v awesome work with women, and that there’s tons of interesting volunteer stuff going on with them (ok, I’m paraphrasing, but she went on and on about how great it is while I was trying to think of fun things to post on Twitter; I really need to raise my profile there).

The only prob is that I am SO busy, as I’ve already said. And a big part of that is educating Milly in feminist principles, so maybe I am already doing my bit for The Cause. Does charity start at home? I dunno, maybe. I am teaching her to stand up to Max and Don, like I do. Perhaps kicking Froo Froo Dog is a form of positive self-assertion practice. Mills certainly is v assertive, on that front.

The Froofster is still mumbling to herself in dark corners, but if it’s all for the good of developing Milly’s sense of autonomy, then the dog’s sanity is, I suppose, a small price to pay. I do feel sorry for her though. I just love that dog. Hard choices! This life is full of them : (

Argh, that feels like a bit of a disempowered downer note to end on, and that’s just not me. So, I want to add a new thought I have had before saying ciao-ciao (is it still cool to speak Italian?).

Alora:
Having discovered that I missed the deadline for Mrs Expat Singapore, I realised that I am entirely against this kind of grotesque objectification of women. I will not have it, dear reader. So, with The Cause firmly in heart and mind, I am planning a demonstration to protest against it. The time slot clashes with lovely Vikram’s yoga class at the Hyatt, but I will just have to make that sacrifice.

¡Hasta la semana proxima, Vikram! It’s always cool to speak Spanish : )

Musician or Hedge Fund Manager?

Last night, Don and I went to see a band called Snarky Puppy. They were playing in the most un-Singaporean venue I’ve been to here thus far. Honestly, I felt like I was back at uni in the 1990’s, it was so grungey. I didn’t realise they had grunge here at all. I thought that sort of thing was caned out of them at school.

Bless them, there are so many band members in Snarky Puppy, I suppose they had to book a cheapie venue to break even on their travel and excess baggage costs (a lot of instruments!!). At least they were super-clever, in that they flew to Australia immediately afterwards, and didn’t have to pay for accommodation here. It was sweet that they mentioned going for chili crab at Long Beach. Definitely a crowd-pleaser.

What I loved about the performance was that these young chaps really played their hearts out. There were quite a few bits when I thought, “Ohforgodssake, is there a tune here?”, or “No one is enjoying this solo/ duo as much as you are”, but all in all, I thought they were abso loverly. I really liked that keyboard player centre-stage. Mmmmmmmmm. Don’t tell Don!! (Or Will : ))

The interesting thing was that they all looked so young. I’m young myself, of course, but it made me think about my aspirations for Max. Max plays the violin and the piano, and although I am aware that he has no great gift (like I keep telling him, he’s awful), when I see how much fun these musicians have on stage, I think how wonderful it would be for our little boy to have a passion for an instrument.

Then I think, do I want Max to be financially challenged, unable to settle down, and behave like a narcissistic child for the rest of his life, just because of a passion for music??

No, I don’t think so. I would prefer that he speaks fluent Mandarin and manages a hedge fund. Isn’t that what every parent wants for their child?

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.

Helper’s Day Off and Husband Away!

It is Sunday night. I am abso exhausted, and my hair looks more shocking than anyone who knows me would think possible. I have spent the whole day with my children.

Every Sunday, helpers in Singapore have the day off. It has been enshrined in law since January 2013, before which it was one day a month. They were loathe to enforce the requirement because of how much it would inconvenience people who have help. Interesting article about it here.

Now, I do know that you can ask them to work anyway, and either give them a day off in lieu, or pay them. Our helper asked me if I needed her this Sunday (given Don’s absence), but she only did that to humiliate me, so I thought, “No way! I’ll give them a great day! I’ll show you!”

As soon as Max bounded into my bedroom at 6 o’clock this morning, I began to regret my decision. A little. (I was out last night with the ladies, so I felt a bit jaded, and could have done with the usual lie-in.) The regret, however, served only to strengthen my resolve!

I reflected on that fascinating paradox as I dozed off, having told Max that he was free to play Minecraft until Milly woke up. Milly’s a sleeper! Like Don and I have always said about children, “A sleeper’s a keeper!” Mega LOLs : D

Both of them complained that breakfast was not how the helper makes it. The pancakes were too soggy, and the chocolate milk wasn’t the right temperature. (Even my green smoothie was disappointing. I didn’t want to bother with juicing the hard veg, as well as using the blender, because I didn’t want to have to clean the damn juicer myself. The blender is one thing, but life’s too short to clean a juicer!!)

It was raining, so the traffic was hell, and I was late dropping them off at their respective golf and ballet classes.

After that, I took them to the Botanical Gardens for lunch at Food For Thought, and a run around. Who should we see, of course, but the helper! Happy as Larry, and having a lovely time, eating deep-fried MSG-laced food with her friends. The children dashed over to her, and honestly, you’d have thought that I’m no fun at all, the way they hung around, wanting to stay with her. Ingrates. Especially after I’d gone out of my way to spend the day with them.

Next, I took them to see a Pixar film at the suites, and although Max was engrossed, Milly was so comfortable in her reclined chair and duvet that she kept falling asleep. I spent most of the film trying to keep her awake by prodding her, plying her with sugar-free sweets, and pulling her hair. I didn’t want to be up all night with her!

We had dinner at Marché in the basement of Somerset, so that the ingrates could play while I uploaded photos of today’s fun activities to Facebook (I made sure the pancakes didn’t look soggy by covering them in berries, and did some heavy editing). Because of my claustrophobia, I find that place quite difficult, but I was willing to risk potential trauma for Max and Milly’s enjoyment. That’s sacrifice for you.

Milly spoiled it for everyone though (maybe she isn’t a keeper after all) by repeatedly kicking a Japanese boy, and then, without my knowing, she snuck some rösti off my plate (hangover food haha) into her pocket, and smeared it in the boy’s face!! Oh Lordy. I don’t know where she is getting this behaviour from : ( First Froo Froo dog, now this!

I wasn’t ready to leave because I still had a few more pics I wanted to post, but when the rösti incident occurred, I really had no choice as a responsible parent other than to grab Milly, and tell her that she had utterly ruined the whole weekend for everyone ever.

Luckily, I speak Japanese, so I was able to apologise profusely to the boy’s mother in my most gracious, culturally appropriate dulcet tones.  I did want to say that she should tell the boy to grow a pair, but I’m not one to make a scene.

Bedtime was the usual murderous drama. I don’t even want to dredge it up by writing about it, it was so stressful.

Once Max and the Millster were both finally asleep, I started to process the deleterious effect that today has had on my psyche. I decided to meditate, but that didn’t help. So, I did some chanting, and that didn’t help either.

Then I opened a bottle of NZ sauv blanc, and began writing the above. That helped. Expressing myself freely through the written word does seem to be both my great talent and my great saviour. I think Virginia Woolf said something quite similar. Great minds, and all that!!

But then, dear reader, my refreshed serenity was suddenly dashed against harsh jagged rocks… I got a text from Michelle’s husband: “Hey, you. We should get together some time”.

Argh!! What a creep! He must know Don’s away. I’ve no idea how to respond. Shame he’s so nice. Actually, the more I’ve thought about it, Michelle must be a difficult person to live with. Maybe he’s lonely in his marriage. That’s still no excuse though. Right, dear reader?

Our Unusual Orange House

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It seems that I am over my stress-induced writer’s block, brought on by Michelle’s husband and his feet. I am very much in the mood to write today, and I would like to tell you about where I live. (Please, stalkers: no, just NO, ok?)

So, I think I have already mentioned that we live in a house, or a “landed property”, as they call them here. We weren’t sure where to live when we came on our look-see (I love that Yankee expression!), and at first I was looking at condos as well as houses around Central and East Coast Singapore.

Then I happened to stumble upon a beautiful street called Emerald Hill Road… Wowee!! I’d read about it on Trip Advisor, and saw that it’s an amazing street of Chinese shophouses (which is a photographic specialty of mine, and these houses regularly feature in my many artistic endeavours), a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road. For Londoners, Orchard Road is the equivalent of Oxford Street. Emerald Hill is quiet and historic, so I suppose it’s v like a Soho side-street.

When I told Don that I wanted to live on Emerald Hill, he had no clue what I was talking about. The fact is that working expat husbands really don’t know or care anything about where they are in the world. It is just about where’s work, where’s the airport, and where’s bed. I know this for a fact.

Now, I can be a bit of a push-over on some issues, but I was so insistent on the matter of Emerald Hill (I threatened to go home with the children, but leave the dog with him – he hates Froof the dog; but I was bluffing, of course, dear reader) that he agreed to put it to the mobility team, who put it to the relocation agency, who put it to the realtors; or estate agents in proper English.

Unfortunately, we were told that the houses on Emerald Hill were “beyond our package” by several thousand dollars, so although I was disappointed, that didn’t stop me chanting. As a seasoned chanter, I know that it bears fruit.

I chanted for five days, and on the sixth, I had a call from the mobility people saying that the relocation people had said that the realtor had found a property actually ON Emerald Hill which was within our package price range!! Hurrah!!!

So that’s where we live : )

It’s a house called La Taverna, which has been quirkily altered to contrast with all the other Chinese shophouses on the street, in that it’s painted a textured orange, with different un-Chinesey tiling.

One of the conditions of the lease is that we never open the front shutters (it’s dark, but that’s a small price to pay to live on this iconic street), and we have to keep a low profile. No parties, no deliveries, rarely open the front door. I don’t know why.

We’ve put Max and Milly in the back bedrooms because it can get quite loud out the front, with the bars opposite. Our bedroom is on the bar side, but to my mind, the noise just makes it more like living in Soho (for free, while paying off the mortgage back home hahaha!! I <3 being an expat); and Don is delighted because one of those bars has a members-only cigar room, so he pops across when he wants to read The Economist in peace with a Siglo VI Cohiba. He has met some fascinating chaps over there apparently.

Not that I would worry, but what I like about exclusive cigar bars is that there are rarely any vile nasty gold-digging, husband-stealing b****s there. It’s mostly men, talking about what they’ve read in The Economist or watched on Bloomberg/ CNN whilst on the treadmill.

They’re not the type to bother with all this Tinder stuff etc lolol. Don?? Hahaha! I know more about Tinder than he does! Bless him and his Ralph Lauren socks.

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Smart Move, Singapore!

In the same way that the early Americans built their towns and cities on a sensible grid system to counter the problems inherent in the more naturally evolved infrastructure of old England, Singapore has created an extremely wise solution to avoid the ills which arose from cheap labour in the Americas: do not allow these people to breed.

This interesting fact was explained to me by a taxi driver yesterday. I went to a fabulous spa on Sentosa for a facial, massage, mud wrap, and reflexology – really lovely! I like to have cheaper, more local treatments on Orchard Road at least once a week, but as Don is away, I deserved a spesh treat. I’ve been getting really quite stressed since he left (yesterday morning), what with the ongoing worry about Max’s Minecraft obsession (over which I have abso zero control, and now he has started watching YouTube clips about it, which probably signals the inevitable terminus of his six-year childhood); and Milly’s dysfunctional relationship with Froo Froo dog.

I’m v concerned about Froo Froo too because she has taken a turn for the worse, and seems to be muttering to herself in dark corners of the house. At this rate, the poor thing will need psychological support that I am simply not equipped to deliver. That’ll be expensive here, no doubt : ( Maybe I can find a Skype dog psychologist.

Sometimes I wish we lived in the States. Things like dog therapy are much cheaper there. Moving for the dog’s sanity, though, would probably not hold much sway with Don. He didn’t even want to bring the Froofster. When it came to the crunch, I had to say (bluffing, of course) that it was me and the dog, or neither of us. He did think about it for quite a while, looking back.

Anyway, so I spent the cab journey to Sentosa catching up on the news on Facebook. I like to keep abreast of the goings-on on the Singapore Expat Wives’ group. It’s very much you-snooze-you-lose with that group because there are so many interesting posts constantly emerging.

On the return journey though, I was all zen and relaxed, so I settled back into the seat, and listened to the driver’s sweet chitchat. So, that was when he told me about this clever way of discouraging the lower working people from breeding.

He explained that, as the vast majority of domestic workers (female, of course) are Filipinas, the imported manual laborers and such males are deliberately not from the Philippines. Genius!

Instead, they are Bangladeshi or Chinese, and because they often don’t speak English, and certainly not Tagalog, fraternising simply does not occur; thus no little baby working people are born on Singaporean soil. Pretty clever, eh? That, plus the required six-monthly pregnancy tests for domestics, pretty much sews up the problem : ) It covers all bases, as those hilariously metaphorical yanks would say.

By the time I got to Dempsey to meet my new friend Liz for lunch (Liz knows Deb, whom I know from our last country, from the country they were in before that; I think it was Zambia, or Namibia or somewhere; def one of the African “ia”s), I felt v curious and inspired by the circumstances of the lower workers in Singapore. I am considering writing a book, if I can find the time, either about Filipina domestics, or perhaps a collection of taxi driver tales. Both would be so fascinating, I can’t decide! (I still haven’t decided about my pool towel and club dilemnas! Argh!!)

Thankfully, I have at least made up my mind about which Gucci bag to have flown in to Dubai airport. Quel relief!

I think Liz, particularly as a newcomer, was v interested in my potential sociological studies because she kept nodding, smiling, and saying, “Ah, yes” and “Oh really?”. In her previous (pre-expat wife) life, she was an editor on a highbrow British paper, so she knows a good story when she sees one. Lay off my ideas, Liz!! LOLs.

A Downer Day

I just haven’t been feeling like my usual fun-loving, sparky, gorgeous self lately, which is why I haven’t felt like writing. Sorry, dear readers. Well, sorry Mummy and your aqua aerobics group, that is. I’ve asked her to tell her online Scrabble cronies about my blog (ha, crones more like, lol, jk Mummy!!), but she said it’s not the kind of thing they’d read. Hmmmmm. Not v well-read, these Scrabble people, then.

Actually, my lack of readers is part of why I’m feeling less than great. I’ve been blogging for over a week now, but I still haven’t gone viral : (

The more mis and emosh I start to feel about my non-viral state, the more obsessively I check my viewing statistics. Yesterday I must have checked over a hundred times, including throughout my lunch with Dull Kelly, and I just think it’s so tacky to be constantly fingering one’s phone when in company or at a restaurant. It’s so unlike me.

I’m also feeling down because I had a hard night with Milly. She was up twice, saying she’s worried about spiders in her room (honestly! I’ve seen more spiders in the UK than in Singapore), and she also had a nightmare that our dog had grown into a giant dog and kept kicking her. Then when we went downstairs this morning, Milly immediately laid into the dog to get her own back. Poor little Froo-Froo. I told Milly quite firmly that it’s just not on.

While all that was happening, Max was glued to his iPad, playing Minecraft, and although that’s partly nice because he’s less annoying when he’s occupied, it made me worry that he might be developing addictive tendencies. Parents are just powerless when it comes to new technologies.

Then I opened the dishwasher to look for my favourite mug (the “Best Mummy in the Universe” one that Max gave me for Mother’s Day), and lo and behold… There were plastics in the lower section!! I have told the helper about this at least a billion times, and she absolutely persists in continuing this insulting behaviour. I really think she does it to annoy me.

It all was so upsetting that I went back to bed for an hour, until Max left on the schoolbus, and the helper took Milly to daycare. So that meant I couldn’t go to meditation for the second week in a row, and I really needed to go today because of how I’m feeling at the mo.

I had better go for a massage and a facial instead, to nip this mood in the bud. I don’t want to feel like this while Don is in Dubai, and I’m on my own with two small children.

It’s times like this when I think that married men just have it so easy. They can just swan about (or fanny about, as my South London friend says lolol; it’s ruder in British English, but still funny-ish in American English), do whatever they want, go off to play squash or golf whenever, have interesting work nights out, and take trips all over the place. Then they pop home, like the big provider, and expect everyone to fall at their feet. Max and Milly think the sun shines out of Don, and they don’t understand that, as a mother, that’s extremely hurtful for me. I’ve tried to explain it to them, even crying occasionally to really emphasise my distress, but they still don’t get it.

The House or Condo Issue

We went to an abso lovely event at Max’s school today. Those PTA people just do a marvelous job. It’s so great that so much gets done by so few people. Well done, those helpy people! I just don’t know how they find the time. Maybe we should get a second helper, so that I can lend a hand. I like doing that sort of thing. We could get a bunkbed for the helper room, I suppose.

There was one argh moment though, which made me feel quite sorry for Max’s new friend’s mother. I haven’t met her before, but she seems sweet.

Max and the boy, Frankie, were talking about where they live, and Max asked Frankie if he lives in a condo or a house. (We live in a house. A landed property.) Frankie said, “Oh, we live in a condo because houses are too expensive”.

At that point, Frankie’s mother looked positively mortified behind her Chanel shades (realees or fakees? Fakees, methinks, on this occasion), and she let out a little laugh, saying, “Hahaha, no honey, that’s not why we live in a condo! We live in a condo – and it’s not cheap, you know! – because it has a pool”.

Then Max, bless him, says, “Yeah, but we have a pool, and we live in a house”. Oh dear, the mother looked so embarrassed. I really felt for her. She must have wanted the ground to swallow her up. I think it was ok in the end though, because I gave her a super nice, empathetic smile, which I hope conveyed that she so didn’t need to feel bad about living in a condo. Lots of people do, including some of my besties, and it’s really no big deal. It honestly doesn’t matter to me where people live! Plus, there are drawbacks to living in a large landed property. So much floor for the help to clean every day.

The Help

The main problem with my helper is that she has absolutely no idea how normal people live. It makes me feel so sorry for these people, when I think how they must live at home.

I am a late-comer to Downton Abbey, and it has been a real eye-opener watching it this past year, now that we have full-time help. It has made me realize that I would have been a lot happier if I had lived in those times, when you could get an army of local domestic staff who spoke your language, and really knew what they were doing. Our helper didn’t know how to polish silver when she started : ( Training her was such an exhausting task that I decided to send her on a course. They have some excellent helper courses here, thankfully. What is really nice is that they run them on Sundays, which is her day off, so we don’t have to manage without her during the rest of the week.

I have to say though, she is a true gem when it comes to the kids. I hardly have to spend any time with them at all now. I’m more in a supervisory role really, and that’s what I am mostly good at because I have read a lot of books about child development, I did a six-week certificated training in counseling children, and I keep up to date on what products I need to buy to best support Max and Milly through these vitally important early years. I dread to think how other, less well-informed expat parents deal with the challenges of raising nomadic children. Perhaps I should set up a course on that. I do have a certificate, after all.

Expat Wife Dilemna: Pool Towels

We have been here a while now, but I still have pool/ beach towels on my to do list. It’s getting pretty embarrassing actually because I’m still showing up to condo pool parties with cartoon towels we got in Costco three years ago. They were only supposed to be for-nowsies!

Everyone else at the parties, all the other expaterati, have lovely Lacoste towels, and I’m so divided on what decision to make. First of all, I’ve looked in all 12 of the Lacoste outlets here and they don’t sell towels (so where are these people getting them from?!), but then I’m also thinking, hey I don’t want to be an expaterati sheep! So I just can’t decide whether to order some from Lacoste anyway and risk the import tax as well as the sheepyness, or to get other ones. It’s been 18 months now that I have been unable to make this decision. Poor Max and Milly, still turning up to social gatherings with Costco towels : (

Shoes for the Under-Priviledged

I still just love those shoes where you buy a pair, and then someone somewhere who can’t afford shoes gets a pair too. Win-win : )

I hope it’s sustainable though. If their margins aren’t high enough, there won’t be any more shoes for poor people, and that would be a terrible shame. Maybe they would have to change the system, so that each time they sell a pair, the poor person gets just one shoe, either the left or the right, and then has to wait for another sale to be made to get a shoe for the other foot. Then there would be an administrative problem though, and they would have to spend more money, hiring people to keep track of which shoe the poor person still needed. God, I hope they have thought this through.

I wish Prada would do something like that because that’s where I mainly like to get my shoes from. I guess that if they did, they couldn’t afford to have such nice stuff because they couldn’t pay the designers enough to make it worth their while.

When Max got home from school today I had to take him to buy a present for his little friend’s birthday at the weekend. He was quite tired because he has mandarin after school on Thursdays (one hour a day as part of the curriculum just isn’t enough; 6-year old brain cells grow at the speed of light, and we have to get that Chinese in there asap because our children absolutely must learn the language to compete in this global economy), so I decided to go to the Toys R Us which is 5 minutes’ walk away, instead of the slightly bigger one which takes 7 minutes to get to, or the really huge one which is a 12 minute walk.

Bless him, Max was feeling a bit sad. He was talking about how much he misses his big cousins back home, and that he wishes he could see them more often so that they could help him get to the next level on Minecraft. So sad, poor thing. I hate it when he says he wants to go home.

When we were choosing the present, he wanted to get the same thing for himself. First I thought, ok that’s not a good habit to get into; but then he got all sad again about wanting to go home, and asked why we’re here anyway when all our family are somewhere else and we have a perfectly nice house in London.

It is just so hard to be an expat kid, I suppose. So I bought him the toy, but I got him the bigger, more expensive version of the one we got for his friend (the friend will never know). He’s in his room now with the helper, playing fighting games with the new toy, and he seems much happier than he was earlier. No mention of going home at all!