On Non-Awesome Mothers (of the Repatriated Expat)

When I returned from my divine time in Disney, I had to drive straight to Mummy’s Holland Park abode to collect the irritants. From the way she had told me to hurry back to Angleterria, I was anticipating a scene of the utmostest calamity and devastation at her place, but none did I find. All cool: Max hiding in a wardrobe with his iPad so as to avoid his grandmother’s ban on Minecraft, and Milly, somewhat thinner than I remembered (but people always do seem thinner after a sojourn in the northern Americas, don’t they?), half-heartedly doing a jigsaw at the kitchen table, underneath which she held her phone, Whatsapping away with her little friends. They’re so cute at this age. It really is incrediblé how fast five year-olds can type. She has barely learnt to write, but wow can she Whatsapp! That’s my girl : )

Mummy was at the Aga, making juniper berry venison with Jerusalem artichokes and unfeasibly small onions (I do love her cooking! I wish we had more home cooking at my house hashtag sadface.)

She insisted on telling me absolutely everything that the children had done over Xmas and New Year’s – went to Auntie this, saw cousins thems. I wasn’t in the least bit interested, but her focused obliviousosity gave me the chance to message Phil, and to catch up on all the important Facebook news I’d missed during my journey back. I refuse to pay for wifi on planes. Upper Class tickets are expensive enough as it is! I’m not going to subsidise the poors in Economy a penny more than I absolutely have to.

The next thing I heard was Mummy saying, “blablabla-bla-bla-bloo, so you’d be wise to leave now, before the traffic gets bad”.

“Oh”, I replied, “I thought we ought to stay the night. I’m really rather jet lagged, and my chi is flip flopping all over the place, as you can imagine. And you’re doing my favourite sups: juniper berry venison… with Jerusalem artichokes… and unfeasibly small onions. So it would be nice for you if we stayed to keep you company…” –

“Emma-Jane, have you heard nothing I’ve been telling you? I have someone coming round later for dinner. Which is why you’d better get the children’s things together, and go home. You know what the traffic’s like. Or have you forgotten? Not quite the same as Singapore!”

[Ha, like I didn’t know that! I had just spent millennia getting through customs and driving from the airport in the pelting rain. Had it been Singapore, it would’ve taken me half an hour from the time the plane landed to be lying in my rooftop pool with a bottle of Veuve Click. Like I didn’t know!! How totes dare she?? Rub salt in the wound much, Mum-ski?! What a b***h.]

Not one to take things personally, nor blow matters beyond reasonable proportion, I said, “Fine!”, and stormed off to gather the irritants’ paraphernalia, apparently quadrupled in volume due to Xmas presents. They had quite enough stuff already, without people bloody giving them more! There’s nothing for it: we’ll just have to move to a bigger house. I’m sort of running low on money (dunno where that vast sum my father gave me went, though I should really know given that I did an online accountancy course when I sacked my accountant), but I could just get a job or something.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that it isn’t easy to fit three people and shedloads of luggage into a Maserati, but given that needs musted (Mummy was not d’accord with me leaving the gifts or even one of the children at hers), I had little choice, did I, dear readers? As we squeezed into the car, I informed her in a completely not passive-aggressive way that, by demanding our immediate departure, she was risking the lives of two of her precious grandchildren, and her only daughter (apart from the other one, my sister), whilst simultaneously depriving said daughter of much-loved juniper berry venison with Jerusalem artichokes and yes, unfeasibly small onions… Which basically fed into and compounded every other moment of deprivation, disappointment, and dreadfully dire mothering she had perpetrated against my person from conception onwards. As I made sure to let her know.

We said goodbye – well, she said goodbye to the kids – and I sped us home, at least enjoying the roar of the fine engine and the appreciative glances from gentleman drivers. The open road reminded me that I was free, and in spite of Max and Milly’s protestations, I put the top down. With the wind in my fiery locks and Beyoncé blasting loud, I felt myself to be on Orchard Road again (somewhat chillier, of course), recalling the days of cruising from one happy, warm place to another happy, warm place.

Then the car in front came to a halt, as had every car beyond for as far as my azure almond eyes could see. It was really cold. I turned the music down, and flicked the switch to raise the hood. It took almost as long to cross London as it had to cross the Atlantic. I say “almost”, only because I am not prone to exaggeration.


 

Thanks to Mummy’s salt rubbing, I am now missing Singas more than ever.

Leafy Orchard Road

Lovely leafy Orchard Road

 

Bankers on Roof Terraces

Bankers on roof terraces

 

Botanic Gardens

Sunny days at the Botanic Gardens – Hampstead Heath is so much chillier

 

Nikoi

Paradisical retreat weekends on the island of Nikoi, after a long five days of gloriously exhausting social mayhem

 

Fun times

Fun times wid my girlies

 

Laundry

& laundry hanging out of HDB windows in 100% humidity

 

So this was me after last night’s gig in Soho. I’m doing my happy face like a true pro, but inside my extremely awesome biker jacket, my heart was sobbing, “Take me back to Singapore!”

Potential repatriates take note. It’s not great.

 

Blue Post

 

 

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Repatriation is Never Easy, I Know

Yet again, I’m find myself apologising for my silence, even though I know, my loves, that you understand implicitally and don’t feel due an apol. The reasons for why I have failed to show up on the blogosphere for thoroughly ages are threefold:

1. I still have this major childcare and house work problem in that I continue to interview potential staffs, but they are all dreadfully spoilt and demanding, and fail to meet my specificalations in return for a Singapore helper’s salary.  Rude.

Secondly, I am currently hard at work preparing for my debut on the London performance scene. I met this guy who came to the door wanting money for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and he was mega charming, and asked me all about my fascinating self – what kind of work I do and stuff, and how come I’m so wedged up. I explained that I’m a celebrité blogger and rap artiste, and I want to continue sharing my glamorous life with normal dull people, whilst spreading my wings to horizons new and fields afresh. He told me I should do stand-up comedy, so I was like, “Wha?”, and he was like, “Yeah!”

So now I’m what’s called a platinum donor to those nice dogs and cats, I think. He was so nice!

I always thought stand-up was telling jokes and being funny, but he reckoned that I could just be myself, and get my message across about everything I know, edicating the general public re expat issues, far-flung places they’ve probably never been to or even heard of, and what it’s like to be a sizzling hot SAHM of two, living in North London, unable to find suitable staff.

Hence therefore thusly I did an amazing stand-up course with an amazing guy (I didn’t tell him that I’m not really doing comedy – more edicating), and I met some super-nice peeps. Who knew that people who take comedy classes would be so funny?! Carving my way elegantly to the chase now, the crucifix of the matter is that one of these funny people said I could do a “five” at her comedy night, Crown the Knave. No idea what Crown the Knave means, but as a seasoned comic, albeit yet to do my first “set” and I’m not really doing comedy, I do now know that a five means I have five minutes to share my wisdom with the assemblage. And a set is my thing what I’ll be doing. It’s astounding how much I’ve gleaned in a mere six Saturdays, but I’ve always been a fast and perspiratious learner, as my love-you-long-time dear readers will know.

Where I'm on at. Image credit: http://acraftyglass.co.uk/pubsbars/the-mug-house-london-bridge#comment-22764

Where I’m on at.
Image credit: http://acraftyglass.co.uk/pubsbars/the-mug-house-london-bridge#comment-22764

Said “gig” is the week after next (a gig is what we pros call a performance) and I expect it to be a sell-out, with all 20 seats taken, and possibly one or two people standing at the back as well! Apparently there’ll be a few other acts, and I think I’m on in the first half which means I’ll very much be setting the standard for the evening. So I hope the others are up to scratch!! It’s agony to watch comedians bomb! I’ll feel so sorry for them, having to go after me. I just can’t reign in my empathic tentacles. I’ll experience their pain as acutely as they will. Possibly moreso moreover.

Three: Don got in touch yesterday, quite out of the blue, and that is now absorbing me and invading my think space. He didn’t even say anything. He sent me the YouTube link of Adele’s beautiful Hello song (sooooooo much better than Lionel Ritchie’s version). What now, now?? Really?

Really?

Really?

You know, like really??? I mean, helloooo!! (Is it still cool to say that..? It’s def cool to say “Really?” over and over, but “Hello!!”, I dunno…)

Anyhoo, I was just almost getting my life together and the last thing I need is my philandering hus showing up. Hashtag stressful hashtag anxious face.

That’s the threefold list, and I’ve just thought of another thing. I’ve still got this outstanding issue with Nike going on, and I really need to resolve it soon because it’s messing badly with my chi. Not wanting to take on a corporate giant alone, nor enter Nike Town Oxford Circus in possession of camel toe-ness without morale support, I’ve been trying to find someone to come with me. I’ve asked a bunch of my London girlies, but they’re all busy avoiding Town (come on, babeses! Town is a 7k jog away, wtf??), and when I broached the matter with last-resort cousin Clara the psychologist, she raised her eyebrows and changed the subject. What is it with these therapy people?? So effing precious. Like they never have poop skids on their white g-strings! Yeah, right. I for one wouldn’t be seen dead at the crematorium in a white G (particularly since the loss of my tan… Miss Sing so much!!), but I’ve heard tell of this revolting phenomenon. Apparently it’s a Thing on Instagram. Argh!!

Then though though, the coolest thing happened which was very much Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist-ish (OMG such a classic text, what an awesome writer), in that the other day when I was outside re-positioning the recycling because it matters in these parts what’s on top, I got chatting with my next door neighbour. He was here before we dashed off to Asia so I’ve known him for years, but I don’t know him at all which is one of those great Londin tings.

Because I was situating two Nike shoeboxes so as to hide some Waitrose Essentials items (“essentials”?! so Tesco’s! what has gone wrong with the John Lewis gang – did they also get bought by the Chinoiserie?), whilst balancing out an Hermes scarf box with a bit of Street, Mr Neighbour called over, “You really like your Nikes, don’t you?”

It was sweet of him to show an interest in my shopping choices so I decided to tell him the unabridged tale of my Nike leggings camel toe debacle, and that they’ve invited me to come for an inspection, but I’ve no one to go with. Bless him, he then offered to accompany me on my important mission. He said he doesn’t “have a lot on at the moment”, and would be “delighted to provide any level of assistance required”.

So there I’d been, getting hetted up about finding someone to help me with this tricky business, and he was right under my naturally unique nose all along! #fate

You gotta embrace fate. I do. You should too, babeses. Or dahlins. People say “dahlin” over here. They say it like dah-LIN, with the emphasio on the lin. I might go there with that transition, if you don’t mind, Expaterati babeses/ dahlins. Lemme know if it grates, but I’m making no promises. It’s important for the re-pat to to de-pat.

My Fascinating Camel Toe Resolution Process With Nike

As likers of my Facebook page will be acutely aware, this week I have had a problem of the camel toe variety. And first world problems are totes still problems, are they not, babeses?? The point is, is that they are.

So despite being an incrediblé busy single mum, struggling gracefully but mahusively to keep home and raise irritants sans helper, I needed to address this issue with Nike as a matter of urgency. It was interfering with my chi quite badly and I am certain that even corporate giants have hearts, and therefore thusly do not like to cause anyone pain unknowingly, particularly a customer as highly valued as myself.

The first stage of addressment of the camel toe problem re my recent purchase of workout leggings (as they’re American, they call them “training pants”, but that sounds like something to do with the toileting of toddlers, hence raises a degree of discomfort for me) was to fill out an online form. I explained that my issue simply could not be accommodated by an online form. What followed was an abso lovely exchange with a gentleman called Mo, and rather than paraphrase, I will post it in full below for your perusal. I know, dear readers, that you will find it riveting, but as always, there is no need to thank me.

[Unless you feel overcome with gratitude, in which case, go for it! I v much believe in freedom of expression – partic for those who want to say nice stuff. Otherwise, not so v much…]

 

 

Nike 1

 

So this was my mail:

Nike 2.1

Continued…

Nike 2.2

 

And these were the attachments:

 

CT issue

My dismay is all too evident

 

Lulu no CT

A Lulu tag on leggings I have since purchased at her Covent Garden shop. Wait… £118?! I didn’t see that! The things a Syrian refugee could do with £118!! Hashtag GUILT! (Just because it’s Canadian doesn’t make it right.)

 

And thusly came Mo’s sweet response:

Nike 3

 

Hencely the upshot is that I will be running to Oxford Circus at the earliest possible opportunity, labia-a’flailing, in order to present myself and the training pants for Inspection.

I shall keep you abreast of my progress, fear not.

Blighty Blueses, Actually, Babeses

Well, sweet to be back, my non-fat a**!

You will no doubt have noted my tragic absence from the Internet, which I’m afraid is due to having far too much stupid stuff to do that I am simply not accustomed to doing. Singapore expats, hear me now: wherever she is when you are done reading my riveting words, grab your helper(s) and give her a hug (or a good firm handshake if you’re British, and therefore thusly more knowledgeable about appropriate boundaries with staff), to thank her for attending to the mind-numbingly boring minutiae of daily life, such as loading the dishwasher and child-rearing. Honestly, I had no idea how much Thingie did (what was her name again..? Hilda? I think Mummy said it was Hilda) until now that nothing seems to get done! My old cleaner can only come once a week, and I’m sure anyone else will rob us, given that this city is full of criminals. I’d heard life as a London single mum was hard, but this much hardness?? Hashtag shear hell.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve interviewed 74 nannies, wasting precious time when I should be at the gym (it’s a miracle that I’m still so toned and hot, but I am), or working on my social life and my as yet unidentified meteoric career path. The shocking upshot is that none of them are willing to put in the hours that Hilda did (it was Hilda, am I right?… do you recall??), let alone bother to wash a few windows, and do a bit of ironing or whatevs while the irritants are at school.

All I’m asking is that she gets the kids ready in the morning, does the school run (I didn’t even know what that was! I’d heard tell of it, but it sounded so ridic dreadful I thought it must be some kind of religious allegory, or maybe even a joke), spends the day helping around the house a teensy bit, picks the kids up, and does dinner, homework and bath-time. Then I take over to read them a story, or better yet, go through my FB newsfeed with them because that builds our relationship in a way that books just can’t. After that, she does the next hour or three of them d**king around and not going to sleep, so that I can get on with other more important things or go out. Come on!! Is that really too much to ask? The work ethic in this country is truly appalling.

I can’t wait for the Syrians to arrive and get stuck in to the job market. Surely a nice desperate Syrian wouldn’t be as pernickety as my 74 fails. All this immigration nonsense leads me to utter dismay! The Politicos can’t sort it out, but if they gave me a ring, I easily could. The solution is so obvious. I need a Syrian or three… they need me… what’s the problem?? I can put a summerhouse (well, a shed probably) in the garden (well, it’s more of a yard), or I have a lovely little basement which is mostly dry. There’s even the loft. Ok, so it’s a bit poky and has no windows, but in idyllic Singapore these people live in bomb shelters and they don’t even have a fear of actual bombs, unlike Syrians. So one would think, would one not, that as long as no actual bombage occurs, the absence of windows would be a tremendously minor issue… particularly in terms of post-traumatical stress syndrome.

I must go now because I need to maximise my usage of the irritants’ sleep time until I have recruited a Syrian. I need to do a tree pose, a frog, and a few down dogs, plus have a bath with a drop of NZ’s finest. It’s not quite the same as lying in the pool on the roof terrace at Emerald Hill Road accompanied by my girlies and Veuve Click, but it’ll have to do. Anyway, I wouldn’t be on the terrace today even if I was there. Poor Sing is enveloped in smoke from the Indonesian burning. Feel awful for my Expaterati babeses. Fingers crossed and lots of namastes that it’ll end soon. Weird that, as the wealthiest country in the region, the Singapore government does nada niente to counter the problem. Surely they don’t have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo despite the impact on the health of their own population. No way, man! A governmentification not taking care of its own people? That would just be nuts. Crazybobs. Wouldn’t happen over there or over here, trust me.

I’m using an old image because I haven’t had time for new ones. Miss you, Singers! XOXX

It was so cool hanging out with the locals and eating their weird food.

It was so cool hanging out with the locals and eating their weird food.

Back In Blighty, Babeses!!

Blighty rain so not like rain in Langkawi : (

Blighty rain so not like rain in Langkawi : (

Oh my luvs, I hope you didn’t think I had deceasedéd and decomposéd. I haven’t. I have mainly been very busy transforming my personage from Expaterati to Londonati, more specifically Highgate-ati. Highgati? Hmmmm. It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Expaterati, but I suppose it’ll just take time for me to emerge from my chrysalis into the glowing social butterfly I was in Singapore, and christen a new ati.

In many ways, it is quite sweet to be back. The old place hasn’t changed that much. Highgate Village (pronounced vill-aahj) is still the same reassuring cocktail of estate agents, charity shops, pubs, coffee chains, etc, with a few independent shops apparently managing to pay the rent (and a betting shop… What now now??!). In Singapore, places like those little shops are a front for other things I’m told, but surely that couldn’t happen in Blighty, where accountability, democracy, transparency, and social justice prevail over all else.

So the Vill-ahhj does seem to be thriving, despite the conspicuous absence of our celebrité vill-aahj-eurs. The Jude, the Sacha, and all that lot. Word on the street is that they still have houses in Highgate, but they’ve upped sticks to LA or whatevs, which means that loads of the places round here are empty. Seems a dreadful shame because these houses are divine, but if they’re paying their UK taxes then I’m not one to have a go. Maybe they are living the heady expat life that I have had to forgo.

And forgo, I am needing to on a number of fronts since our departure from the gleaming island.

Firstly, I have attempted to wear closed shoes, as the climate tells me to forgo my vast collection of Prada flipflops and Chanel espadrilles. Attempted I tell you, I truly have, but after only 16 minutes in my handmade, extremely limited edition Doc Martz (made in the Yukes, babeses, yes here, not in some factory outside Shenzhen – I have one pair, and there are three or four others kicking around in the world, I believe), my feet were screaming to be rescued from their savage fate… So back to the flipflops I did dash. My toes have on occasion turned a shocking shade of blue, but I’ve made time for a pedi, choosing a shade which both tones with the blueing and enhances my suddenly lingering tan.

[Note to self: add tan to the list of things forgone, in addition to blood circulation in toes.]

Secondly, I have had to forgo the ease of obtainance of Nespresso pods. No longer can I roll out of bed, meet my girlies for breakfast and then loll to the basement of Takashimaya to stock up (or easier still, send the help). No. Now I have to order the damn things! Ridic!! How heavily the Mighty tumble, hashtag very sad face : (((!! Ok so it only took 22 and a sixth hours between makin the call and takin delivery, but that’s 22 more hours than it took in Singas.

And threely, the forgone thing that so sucks the most is my girlies. Missing you, babeses!! Can’t wait to see you in Nov when I come back for the ANZA Melbourne Cup. X X O X

But I’ve got a whole bunch of girlies here to catch up with so it’s like totes cool, right?! Yes, lah.

I should probably unlearn my Singlish. I keep givin it “can” and “cannot” on my calls to the utilities and the TV license and the council for the Maserati resident’s parking permit (yes, I got another one hahaaa! So much cheaper here!! Cheap as chips… Have kept my old silver car too, but I’m not sure classic cars are still cool, are they??).

I’ve found schools for Max and Mills, no thanks to Don as I haven’t heard from him at all and presume he is still in Hawaii with my teenage step-sister.

Everyone said the school thang would be a nightmare, but actually not at allio. I just researched where celebs send their irritants, applied, said some stuff about my proximity to the royal fam, and we were a-go-go. Mixed school for Max, girls’ school for Mills. The Max one wanted to have him “assessed”, so I was like, “wha?!”, but they were like, “ya”, so I did and the educational psych said he’s dyslexic. OMG! So he’s not just a useless moron, likely to follow in his philandering useless father’s footsteps. Turns out he’s got Difficulties and Needs. How cool is that?! Love it.

Mills totes hearts her new uniform, so she’s all good.

I’m thinking about getting another dog. No hound could replace my lovely Froo Froo, of course, but with Hampstead Heath on our doorstep and an amazebobs grooming salon in La Villaahj, frankly it’s churlish not to. Should the poop regulations feel too arduous, we can wander down the hill to Archway and donate droppings liberally, as is the wont of those zed zone Islington people. At least Froo Froo mark two’s number twos will be formed from organic food stuffs, purchased at the Crouch End branch of Waitrose when it re-opens after its annoyingly ill-timed refurb. Were they not informed of my return date? Deeply annoying.

Expat Agony Part Two of Two

I still have a couple more woes to share before you are up to speed with my glamorous life, but you’ll be happy to know that I am at least feeling a whole heck of a lot better. Having spent a lot of time at the amazebobs hotel spa, I am now both grounded and uplifted, and I look fabulous from the tip of my toes to the top of my flaming locks. I have been: scrubbed, stroked, kneaded, nurtured, massaged, manicured, pedicured, pampered, emphatically lymphatically drained, and my Kundalini has been repeatedly activated. All rather marvellous, so I am today sufficiently restored to continue with my tale.

After the leaving do, saying goodbye to my Maserati, and then the terrible tragedy, the packing process began. Because of our enormous collection of furniture and art, and my equally vast wardrobal contents, it took five days to complete the move, with a total of 572 boxes. Argh! It was like slowly tearing off a plaster from an open wound. I’ve said it before, but I’ll reiterate: how much pain can one person endure?! Endure it, I did though. What choice did I have, given that Don prioritised his career and his own wishes over me? Zero, babeses, zero nada niente 没有.

What was good though is that we had less stuff than was estimated for the shipment, so I popped out during the week to buy more. I got a few bits of furniture from Timothy Doulton (love that shop!!) at Dempsey, and some odds and ends from Crate and Barrel. It all just went into boxes straight away, so was quite easy.

Of course, everything was done for us by the twelve strong chappies from the moving company, but that doesn’t mean that it was stress-free for me. Quite the contrary. Watching my life being dismantled bit-by-bit was shear hell. Until they did the roof terrace, I could at least take myself up there for a Veuve Click and a lounge. I was in fact engaging in that very pursuit when the time came for the packers to dismember the area. I heard clinking and realised that, for some unknown reason, there were at least twenty Veuve empties concealed behind the ornamental pool towel cupboard. Extraordinary. I do recall putting one or two back there when I forgot to take them down for the recycling, but that many?! Must not have been me. No doubt the help has been drinking my fizz all these years without me noticing. That woman! Can’t wait to see the back of her. (Though what to do with the irritants until I have a nanny in London?… Am somewhat worried about that, as 16-hour a day staff may be too pricey to justify. So unfair that there isn’t cheap help in London.)

Anyway, the next thing I knew, all of the empties were being carefully wrapped and put into a box. Ooopsy! They’re just so wild and impetuous, these moving guys. If it’s not nailed down, they pack it.

On the fifth day it was finally over, and although I felt exhausted and devastated, it was a relief to see all of the boxes gone and to close the door on my beautiful Emerald Hill Road home; and on the past. Well, I say “close the door”, but I personally wasn’t there for the final goodbye because I had a late lunch with my girlies. The children weren’t there either (they were at Camp Asia), but it doesn’t matter, I’m sure. Kids are so resilient, particularly expat kids. It was only their home. It’s not like they won’t have another one.

Boxes

My lovely life in 572 boxes…

We moved to a serviced apartment on Orchard Road as we weren’t due to leave for Langkawi until the next day. That night we all went to Andre’s for dinner to celebrate Angel’s seventeenth birthday and mark the end of the move, but it wasn’t the most fun evening everrrr despite the venue. Don seemed like he was on a different planet – very strange and distracted. The irritants were chaotic and even more irritating than usual. Even Angel was off-key and not her normal “I’m so hashtag young and hot and cool like Cara Delevingne” self. It was dull enough that afterwards I took myself off to meet Flo for a few beverages as a consolation.

The next morning, I was a bit tired and didn’t wake up until after 10 o’clock. Milly took it upon herself to pull me from my dreams, dashing into the bedroom and saying, “Mummy, where’s Daddy? Cannot find him, lah. And where’s Angel? Wasn’t she coming to the airport too? She’s going back to ‘Stralia and we’re going to Langkawi, but she was coming to the airport with us. Is she gone already?”

I got up and went to ask the helper where Don was, but she hadn’t seen him since the previous night. Not very helpful, helper. I phoned him, only to find that his phone was switched off. So, I decided to just go about my day and get ready for the holiday. I had a shower and was brushing my teeth when I noticed that Don’s wash bag wasn’t there. Nor was his toothbrush or anything else belonging to him. Then I looked in the wardrobe on his side of the bed, and it was empty. Starting to feel alarmed, I ran arms flailing to the desk. Laptop not there. Nothing of Don’s anywhere. In a horrible flash of realisation, I dashed into Angel’s room. Also empty. WTF??? I didn’t know what to do or think, dear readers. What could I do? I completed the preparations for the holiday, told the children that Don and Angel weren’t coming with us, and off we went to Changi.

So here I am a few days later – bruised and confused, but unbroken. I have heard nothing from Don, and his Singapore phone has now been disconnected. Next week when we’re briefly back in Sing (before heading to Phuket for an awesome party), I think I’ll contact Clara to see if she knows what’s going on. In the meantime, I will just focus on Me Time, and keep getting my spa on.

Expat Agony Part One of Two

IMG_5005Forgive me, babeses, for I have sinned against blogging. It has been ten days since my last blog. I can only imagine the profound sense of vacancy and loss you have had to endure through my silence, and for that pain, I am truly sorry. When I tell you though, about the pains I have suffered over this time, and why I have been unable to share, I have no doubt that my torment will replace your own in your hearts and minds. I know how empathic you are.

In the past ten days I have experienced a series of increasingly difficult events, all of which have showered great boulders of loss upon my toned shoulders; loss which other, less toned shoulders might have found too desperately weighty to bear without breaking. Break, I have not, dear readers, nor intend I to do so therefore thusly. One would think that I had had more than my fair share of said shoulder boulders of late, but no. Cruel fate tests even the those who are as hot as I be.

And very hot I have managed to be this week, permanently adorned in my gigantic collection of Sea Folly bikinis and coordinating resort wear. I write to you now from the beautiful island of Langkawi, a paradise of radiant beaches and misty, lush forested hills. Thank goodness I had the foresight to choose this magical place again. I could not have made a better choice. Perhaps deep down in the wisdom of my psyche I knew that I would need a complete rest in the divine arms of the Four Seasons. (And the pesky macaques, but they’re the least of my trials.)

The first of my agonies was our goodbye party. Tanjong Beach Club for the day, then on to the rooftop at Potato Head. I decided to combine both events, so that I could wear an impressive multitude of outfits in the same 18-hour period, which is the hallmark of the genuinely stylish.

It was all just perfect, but by the end of the evening I was beginning to come to grips with the horrid truth that there will be no more days and nights like this. As each awesome Expaterati friend said goodbye and drifted away, I knew that I had to accept this was truly Goodbye. Every departure was more tragic than the last, and I really put my waterproof, bulletproof mascara to work.

By midnight I was down to my last few girlies, and had so fully accepted the sorry state of affairs that I realised I had no choice… I simply must come back in November for the fabulous ANZA Melbourne Cup 2015! It’ll be too sublimely exciting to miss, and I know that because I know who’s organising it, and lemme tell you: that chick knows how to throw a parté. So there on the rooftop, I got out my phone and booked the flights straight away, with the help of a lovely bar man who was able to see better than I could. It does get quite dark on that particular terrace at night.

The following day, there came the next searing loss. I had to say adieu to my beautiful purple soft-top Maserati. Hashtag mega sad face : (!!! I was feeling quite tired because after Potato Head, we remaining resilient few went to Brix for one last hurrah, to drink in the heady cocktail of great chunes, super-friendly Russian ladies, and desperate, horny men. Such an amazebobs time!! So very much amazebobs that I got home around 4AM. I think. I’m not totes sure because my Rolly disappeared from my wrist, and I was too exhausted and starving to fumble around the recesses of my LV clutch for the phone. I had a quick foie gras with wheat-free toast, and crashed out on the downstairs Louis Quatorze sofette.

The next thing I knew, my lips were being kissed in a most unusually licky way. It was different, but not unpleasant enough to shake me out of my slumber. Only when the licking became persistent and furry did I open my eyes to see Froo Froo’s gorgeous little face staring into my gorgeous face, and I noticed the quite disgustingly rank smell of her breathe. I dashed to the loo, thinking I might vom – albeit elegantly – but then didn’t. Instead, I splashed my face with water to immediately restore its youthful glow, and wiped off the traces of encrusted foie gras that had somehow made their way onto my personage.

I was heading to bed when I passed the 206 year-old grandfather clock in the east wing (one of Don’s many hideous family heirlooms), and saw that it was just before 9 o’clock. Argh!! It flooded back to me that the car was being collected at 10AM and I absolutely positively had to take her for one last spin down Orchard Road. I didn’t have time to change, but the leopard print mini dress from the night before looked damn fine, and totally gelled with the Beyoncé, Katy Perry, et al playlist I had planned for the excursion. I drive better when I’m a little hungover anyway and it’s even more #awesomefunness (I’d never drive drunk though, so don’t be all up in my face, haters, you get me?!).

I did the Last Drive with my approx 12 auditory disciples (they would be if they knew me, right?!), and as I was turning into Emerald Hill Road, Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire came on. I don’t really know what happened, but all of a sudden the exhilaration turned to grief – knowing that these were the final moments I’d have with my beloved Mazzer. I pushed my foot down on the accelerator, swerving around the jutting pavements (sheesh, those traffic calming measures on EHR really make it difficult to drive fast!!), narrowly missing a lamppost, a silver Bentley, and a whole entire shophouse. As I careered onwards, I sang out, “Nobody knows that she’s a lonely girl, and it’s a lonely world, but she gon’ let it burn, baby, burn, baby”, at the top of my voice.

Then, through a glaze of tears, I saw my helper on the side of the road looking like she’d just discovered she was going to be deported, and I felt a dull thud against one of the front wheels. The help let out a blood-curdling scream, which alarmed me so much that I stopped the car.

“Froo Froo!!!”, she shrieked, “Nooooooo, Froo Froooooo!!”

Somewhat shaken, I opened the car door to exit, most unfortunately falling face-first onto the cobbles which is v much not my modus operandi. (I know how to get in and out of all variety of cars that matter – even in movement-restricting outfits – due to personal experience, but also thanks to an intense period of training I undertook in my late teens.) It was the shock of the situation that threw me. Quite literally. Again, I must have known that what had happened was a dreadfully dreadful thing. My intuition is incrediblé.

And so it was, dear readers, that my sweet Froo Froo left this world, and left me. She left me at this very difficult time, when I needed her the most in fact, and clearly there is only one person who bears responsibility: the helper.

As she, the help, was wailing, I crawled my way to the rear of the car, and there I saw what I already feared to be true. Horrifically, I scraped my fresh be-flip-flopped pedi on the ground to the point of ruination, but worse than that… my Froo Froo. It was unbearable. Excruciating. How could any loving omnipotent deity allow this to happen to me?! Take Don, take Clara, take me (yeah, no, maybe not me), take the irritants, take the help! But not little innocent Froo Froo!! She never did any harm to anyone.

It felt so wrong, and it still does now, days later, as I watch the ocean waves pound the shore and work on my pre-London tan. I almost wish that I hadn’t put myself through telling the tale because my chi is getting thrown back to that moment of The Thud.

Dios gracias, I have a three-hour treatment booked in. The buggy will be here any minute to take me to the spa. Hard times…

Rehab For Expats To De-Pat

Ever one to be full of fabulous entrepreneurial ideas, I have been pondering one lately which I believe has great untapped potential. The thought came over me yesterday as I contemplated the resounding success of my post on the 20 thingses I will miss about Xījiãpō.

My complex, mysterious brain threw forth the idea that there should be rehab places for the Expaterati, to assist in the transformation from expat to normal person, via means of extreme re-immersion. (Clara says re-patting, like any major change, is “an opportunity for transformation”, and I suppose she could be right. Still sucks though.) The rehabs would have the geographical locations of small, dull villages in whichever country the expat is returning to. Being from the UK, I will use this as my example for illustratory purposification.

So the rehab would be in a village far away from London, to make it as difficult as possiblé for the ex-expat to access excitement, diversity and vibrancy during the therapeutic process. They would be installed in fairly average accommodation (fully staffed, of course – let’s not push people completely over the edge!), and required to undertake mundane, but purposeful activities throughout the day. These could include volunteering at the post office (which would be super useful because I don’t think the Royal Mail have paid staff anymore), working at the village shop, doing dog-walking for local residents, or other more specific employment related to individuals’ skill-sets.

If the ex-expat has children, there will be absolutely no school bus, and therefore thusly a significant proportion of waking hours will be dedicated to ferrying said children around and sitting in traffic. Car stereos will be locked to the most tedious local radio stations, and phones or other devices will not be permitted in vehicles.

There will also be a strict requirement for community participication, including, but not limited to, organising events such as church fêtes, disseminating information on woefully boring local issues, and providing foreign language tuition for village residents, in the event that any languages were picked up during expathood. Community involvement notwithstanding, the insular nature of the locals and their strong indecipherable accents will mean that at no point will the ex-expat feel a sense of belonging to the community, and will therefore thusly experience alienation, rejection, and an inability to build relationships with anyone in said community. It may sound harsh, but this would be a particularly important aspect of the treatment, adopting, as it does, the evidence-based technique known as swamping, wherein the patient is exposed to the very thing they dread. No pain no gain, babeses!

There will also be a series of mindfulness-based DBT courses, all of which must be completed in sequence before the ex-expat is assessed as ready to leave the rehab. These will focus on issues like:

  • Being a small and insignificant fish in a large rancid pond
  • Surviving without a tan, or even a healthy glow
  • Not constantly referring to the awesome places where one has lived, and how much better they are
  • Concealing one’s light behind a bushel (in my case, the bushel is going to have to be mahusiv)
  • Getting used to the drudgery of long days, particularly if re-patting from Singas, where the days dash by
  • Only meeting new people occasionally, and accepting that they might not realise how profoundly fascinating you are

Depending on the specific presentification of the patient, there may be restrictions on behaviour or permissible activities. For example, it may be necessary to disallow alcohol consumption, the smoking of cigars, dining out, or the playing of social sports. Any activity which sustained or brought meaning/ structure/ pleasure to the ex-expats life whilst abroad will need to be eliminated for the duration of rehabilititation.

The final essential component is group and individual therapy. Clara always says that Drama and Movement Therapy is the best way to “bypass the ego and explore the deeper unconscious aspects of the self and the soul”, so that’s a must for inclusion in the treatment. Individual therapy with highly trained analysts – preferably Jungian – would need to happen up to five times a week, depending on how expatty the ex-expat is. The most expatty patients will be assigned therapists of the very highest calibre, who will take absolutely none of their sh**. Because a huge pile of that, there will inevitably be.

So I am hereby sharing my brilliant idea with the world, and I think you’ll find that it will soon be a huge success on Kickstarter. Investors, feel free to get in touch, though I will need to retain 51%. I am wondering about the name now… Perhaps The Hard Times Clinic. So heart Charlie Dickens. He should’ve kept his sentences shorter though.


Image credit: http://internationaltimes.it/

Image credit: http://internationaltimes.it/

Nearly four yrs since we lost you. If only you had gone to rehab, Ames babes. Then we’d still have lovely you. I was at a Four Seasons in Bali when I heard the news. Cried my heart out into that infinity pool.

20 Thingses I’ll Miss About Awesome Singapore

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I took a long trip up and down Orchard Road today because cousin Clara the psychologist told me last night that I should. She told me to go alone, given that the Froofster distracts me with inspiration for rap lyrics. The irritants were on playdates and Don’s away, so alone wasn’t beyond the realm of contemplation.

Initially Clara’s words were to, “find a place in nature to just be, and to consider the notion of change from the perspective of plants and wildlife… the natural tendency towards growth and transition as time moves on, whether we choose to embrace the changes or not”.

I explained to Clara that places in nature such as the Botanical Gardens, as lovely as they are, ain’t no Hampstead Heath. Too hot by the time I get up and out, babeses. Macritchie also awesome, but also waaaayyy too hot, and it would take me at least 20 minutes to get there, which surpasses my usual 12 minute travel limit. Plus, as I told her, if we’re talking natural habitat, that’s Orchard Road for me. I know every nook and cranny – every side street, every shop, every bar, every restaurant, probably everybody, and every floor of every mall from Plaza Sing to the Palais Renaissance.

So she said, “Ok, Emma-Jane, take a walk down Orchard, if that’s your natural habitat. If you are leaving, it’s important that you begin to process the losses, whatever those might be. A good starting point is to reflect on what you are going to miss.”

Alora, this morning I started my day by reflectiating on what I might miss, and I made a mental list as I rollerbladed the length of Orchard Road – the sun streaming through my raspberry locks.

Here are the 20 things that I know already I will miss about Singapore:

1. Waking up in the morning to see an army of helpers cleaning the cars parked beneath my window. Such a reassuring sight.

2. Being asked if I have a passion card (worst chat-up line everrrrr – still don’t get it).

3. Amusingly and so coolly peppering my speech with lahs, cans and cannots. It’s so great being able to fit in with a little bit of lingo, and it’s v important to learn the local language as an expat.

4. Walking around looking awesomely hot at any hour of the day or night, and not being in fear of my life. I can walk from the bay to home at 3 AM dressed however I chose without the possibility of later being told by a cross-examining barrister that I was Asking For It.

5. My soft-top Maserati. It’s just not on to flaunt one’s wealth quite so openly in the UK unless one is a foreigner. A bit like that quaint tall poppy thing in Australia.

6. The help. I suppose we’ll have to get a couple of au pairs (but they refuse to wash cars, so we might need to get a driver too), or bite the bullet and shell out £80k per annum for the equivalent wrap-around assistance to which we are accustomed here.

7. Putting tons of clothes on to go inside rather than to go outside.

8. Constantly meeting bundles of like-minded Expaterati types – even if they ditch you when they know you’re off-ski. We’ll stay in touch though, right babeses?! Ya, see you in Bangkok, sweets, or London, or San Fran. Totes!! There’s no bye in goodbye anymore – it’s all just GOOD.

9. Being able to take selfies without feeling #awkz. Euro peeps just don’t get how awesome selfies are.

10. Cheap taxis with such friendly uncles.

11. Sweet Singaporeans who’ll apologise to you if you accidentally crash into them while crossing the road and simultaneously Whatsapping… as opposed to stabbing you, like they do in London.

12. Whatsapping whilst crossing roads (due to afore-mentioned risk of stabbage).

13. Languid evenings of cocktails and Veuve Click on roof terraces all year round.

14. Glamorous holidays sans long flights and jetlag with the irritants. Ok so Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are all a bit of a blur to me now, but at least I can still name the countries and largely distinguish one hotel kids club from another. (There might’ve been another county, I forget.)

15. The tropical bird sounds at dawn and dusk. Think it’s just magpies in London now, with the occasional flock of parakeets south of the river, should one foolishly choose to venture in that direction. Not my scene, no matter how much I might miss Singaporean birdsong.

16. Geckos. Froo Froo will miss those more than I will, but I greatly prefer a gecko to its British counterpart, the slug.

17. The proximity and fabulous ease of Changi Airport. No further explanation required. Changi just rocks. We all know that.

18. Having a tan. All. The. Time. Hashtag sadface : (!!!!!

19. Countless amazebobs bars and restaurants within 10-20 minutes of anywhere on the island. In London it’s always, “See you in an hour…”

20. The expat wives’ social media groups. I’m probably going to have to start watching more TV again, or Dios help me, even get involved with the dramas of our extended families. Ugh. Just ugh. Kill me now.


So those are the 20 things I’ve come up with thus far thereinly. My fear is that there may be many more to compound my woes, should the nightmare of repatriation actually occur. I can only cling for now onto Voltaire’s conclusion that all is for the best in the best possible of worlds. I’m totes about that. Hashtag yeah baby. Everything will be alright.

Breaking Up Is Never Easy, I Know

(OR How to Tell The Help That You’re Leaving)

Ok, so it does now seem that we are most probably definitely leaving, at any time in the next four to twenty-four weeks. Or more. Or less. I don’t totes know. Don said I need to inform the help soon, in order for her to make arrangements and stuff. So I was like, yabbut what do I tell her? How do I tell her?? He was like, just tell her! So I was like, oh ok. Can. Maybe.

I happened to awake early enough today to witness the helper getting Max and Mills ready for school, and it was weird because I’d never noticed it before, but there was this… this… tenderness, for want of a better word.

Then in the afternoon I looked out the window when she went to meet them off the bus, and again, it was like watching a movie about people who cared about each other. OMG, how mentalist!!! It was as if I was seeing my kids coming home all happy to see me, but it wasn’t me! Hashtag crazy, huh?? I had to laugh because it was hilarious that the irritants were just as happy to see the help as they would’ve been to see me. Probably more so LOL!! I heart how adaptive children are.

Anyhoo, it occurred to me that while my children probably feel v little deep-down about our helper, she may feel a great deal about them. Therefore thusly I found myself concerned as to how I might tell her that we are (maybe definitely soonish) leaving these sunny shores. So I will use this post to explore various possible avenues for informing the overly-attached helper that she needs to seek new employment.

 

1. Tell her straight, as soon as you know. No, there could be crying. Don’t do that.

2. One night when she’s babysitting, tell her just as you’re running out the door, and hope that she’s all done crying when you get back from your fabulous evening. If she isn’t, tell her you were just kidding and proceed to option 10.

3. Book a last-minute weekend trip to Bali with the hus and kids, and leave her a nice note in the dishwasher, explaining that you unfortunately didn’t have time to tell her in person. Also remind her in that note not to put plastics in the lower section (for like the bajillionth time).

4. Get her a lovely cake for her to share with her friends on Sunday, and have a message baked into the middle layers saying she needs to find a new employer pronto. Hopefully she will have completed all five of Kübler-Ross’ stages of grieving by the time she gets back. If not, as per previously above, tell her you were just kidding and proceed to option 10.

5. Go out all day Saturday with your hus, and have the kids tell her.

6. Give her a year’s salary in cash and then tell her. If there’s crying, at least you’ll know that you’ve done all you could to ease the blow.

7. Place post-its around the house that subliminally suggest the benefits of finding a new employer.

8. Be really unpleasant and hope that she leaves of her own accord. This could backfire though because she might leave before you want her to. Plus it’s not really lawfully permissible to be unpleasant to the help in Singapore, and you could also damage both your chi and your karma.

9. Pretend to yourself that you’re not leaving at all, and then you needn’t worry about telling the help, or anything else related to moving. I am, as dear readers will be aware, not a supporter of self-deception in any form (except if it makes you happy, or other people happy, or it’s 100% justifiable on whatever grounds you yourself deem appropriate), but sometimes there is no other option for the preservation of sanity.

10. Wait until the shipment date, and suggest she spends the previous evening and all the next day with a friend as a treat. Then when she returns to the house, everything and everyone will be gone, therefore thusly bypassing the need for any #awkz conversations or goodbyes. This is by far the best modus operandi for people who are too divine to taint themselves with the complications of raw human emotional expression.

 
While I was writing this post, I found my complex brain making musical connections with a couple classic chunes about separation and abandonment: Paul Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

 

and Flight of the Conchords’ Carol Brown

 

So I’m wondering what the depths of my unconsciousness are trying to tell me. Most bizarro. I mean, I totes heart those songs, and Jemaine will ALWAYZ float my boat, but those ditties are about the loss of real relationships. The help is just the help to me, and Don, and the irritants. She does her job, and we do ours. Super crazybobs that my immense powers of thought and reflectation conjured up tracks like this. It probably just means that I need to get out the Flight of the Conchords box set again. OMG, I could watch that at my own funeral and feel happy!!

Expat Ex-Wife Flying Solo

1408995526zolbvDespite being the incredibly resilient woman that I am, I’m really feeling quite miserablé about the prospect of returning to the UK. There is a triumvirate (thanks again to M in India for that awesome word!) of reasonation for my woes.

Firstly, the weather. London, of course, has its own micro-climate which makes it that much nicer than the rest of the country, but it is still quite crappy compared to Singas. I can’t get my head around not just chucking on Chanel flip-flops every day as I sashay out the front door, dodging clamouring fans and tourists who want in on my glamorous life. (The lack of clamouring is also not so appealing, which makes me think we should move to a house with one of those lovely blue plaques from English Heritage. I suppose we could just get the plaque made ourselves. I’d quite like one that says Charles Dickens. That would be way cool.)

Secondly, but related to the weather, is the issue of snot-ridden children. As dear readers will know from previous posts , I cannot abide by snot, and like I have said before, Crouch End is positively awash with the stuff. If Max and Milly become one of those children, I don’t know how I am going to cope. I’m all for unconditional love of our irritants, but vile effluvia raises a v real obstacle to that IMO.

Thirdly, and this the the most worrying part of my dire situation: no live-in help! Never mind my ongoing quest for a second helper, at home they have these awful laws about minimum wage and how many hours a person can work which prevent us from having even one live-in. ARGH!! And yet I have two children to look after! It’s terribly unfair because it means that either I do literally nothing else besides irritant and home-related tasks, or I squeeze in other things such as a rewarding job, a social life (which would be a fraction of what it is here), and my gruelling health and beauty regime, in which case I will be perpetually exhausted. I certainly won’t have the time to continue sharing my glamorous life with you, beloved babeses, as I will barely find the time to have a glamorous life : (

I was thinking these thoughts today at the hairdressers, and before I knew what was up-ski, I felt a big sad tear running down my cheek. I must have looked truly tragic because the expat ladeee seated next to me took pity on me, handed me a tissue and asked if I was ok. She was super sweet and reminded me of Angelina Jolie, smiling beatifically as she goes about her charitable missions. It made me think that maybe I should abandon my Kate Middleton smile and channel Angelina instead. Because Angelina is also hot and has a hot hus, so perhaps that would be a good transition for me as part of the repatriation process. I could even switch to her hairdo. Make a fresh start. Become a new repat EJ through being Angelina-ish. Ya think??

The woman told me her name was Katie (LOL #weirdness!!), and said she’d be at the salon for a while, in case I needed someone to talk to. I guess I must have because I started telling her about my life as an expat, my marriage, and my dreadfully difficult predicament of now having to return home against my wishes. The words just tumbled out of me. I even told her about when I thought Don was having an affair, and that now I think he probably surely isn’t, but actually I only probably surely think that because he said I was being ridic.

Katie listened and smiled sadly, saying, “Something quite similar happened to me actually, with my ex-husband. He met another woman here, and said I should go home with the children. I was lucky though, much luckier than some, because my business was going well, and I had just managed to get my own Employment Pass. If I had still been on a Dependent Pass, I would have had no choice but to leave. Tim didn’t want the kids cramping his style with his new relationship, so he did everything he could to persuade me not to stay. It was hard. And hopefully your husband isn’t doing that, but it sounds like what you’re going through is very difficult.”

“It so is, babe!”, I said, “And I really appreciate that you get where I’m coming from. It’s just so hard to talk to my actual friends because, you know, we’re all mainly having an awesome time all the time. And if Don is having an affair, well, that’s just… that’s just… humiliating!! What does it say about me?? Where does it leave me..? What if this whole repat thing is about sending me and the kids home, and he’s secretly planning to do a u-turn and say we’re leaving, but he’s staying?…”

When I started crying again, Katie got up from the chair, her head full of foils, and gave me a hug.

“How did you do it? How did you cope with being so massively humiliated and so horribly dumped… cast aside, like a disgusting old piece of rubbish??”, I asked, sobbing elegantly into her neck.

She gave me another tissue and sat back down, pulling her chair and the head-heater thingie closer to me.

“You will be ok, whatever happens, and you just have to believe that. If he is seeing this other woman – Liz, did you say? – then it’s really not about you as a person, it’s about him. It’s about whatever has changed inside him, not about who you are. And you will get through this. If I did it, anyone can.”

“Ok”, I faltered, unconvinced, “What did you do?”

“I moved to a smaller place with our kids, switched them to local schools, and I worked 70 or even 80 hours a week, for a long long time. Thankfully I was able to keep our wonderful helper. She is like the co-parent for me. Tim has a baby now with the other woman, and he sees our kids every few weeks, but only because I’ve insisted on it. He has only ever contributed the bare minimum, so I really didn’t have much choice. The choice was between going back to a place I hadn’t lived for years, taking the children away from the only home they knew, and seeing their father maybe once a year, as well as me losing the business I had worked so hard on, or doing what I have done. But now it’s a few years down the line, and I’ve been able to hire some people, so work has eased off. I get to spend much more time with the children. And I can even get my hair done once in a while!”

She grinned as she said that, and I wondered what my hair would look like if I could only get it done “once in a while”. As well as what I would feel like if I lived in a tiny flat, and worked for 70 hours a week. Seven zero!! That seems rather a lot.

I was deep in reflection when Katie began speaking again: “But you know, I have learned things about myself through this experience that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. There were days when I thought I couldn’t go on, when I wondered if it was really worth it… when I had a hard time believing that it would all be ok. And I wondered if I had made the right decision, or if I should’ve left. But now I see that it was the right decision, not because it was the easy one, but because it was my decision. No one else’s. I made sacrifices, but they were worth it. For me and for the children. I look at my three little girls, not so little anymore, they’re teenagers ha!… I can’t believe it!!… I look at them and I see three strong, independent-minded, thoughtful young women. And that makes everything we went through worthwhile. So you’ll be ok. Just believe that.”

My hair was finished and my mani-pedi was dry. I wanted to stay and talk to Katie some more, but she said apologetically that she had a conference call, and I thought I had better not cancel my girlies’ date for high tea at Raffles. My hair looked frankly stunning, and thankfully my bullet-proof mascara had not suffered unduly from the emotional journey I had endured with the lovely Angelina doppelgänger.

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.

The Limbo State of the Expat Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Horrible Horrors of Repatriation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check the diatribe, babeses!:

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

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

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

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

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

She paused.

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

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