17 Jan

The state of things

On the 2nd of January 2015, we arrived in Singapore. At the time we said we’d be here for two years, because it seemed as good a guess as any. We had no idea if we would like it here, or if Dave would like his job. Two years is the standard commitment for an expat role (leases and utilities all have two-year contracts) so that’s what we said. Long enough to decide if we like living here, but short enough that it’s not a life sentence if we don’t.

Okay, it’s been two years, so what’s happening?

Well, we’re still here. Singapore is a brilliant place to live, it’s clean and safe and everything just works. Dave is enjoying work (though enjoying is not quite the right word), his career is going well and he wants to keep pursuing it; Bianca is thriving at school and me…well, I like it, I’m happy, although the full answer feels more complicated than that.

We’re not committing to any particular chunk of time. Maybe one year, maybe two, perhaps even longer (though I doubt we’ll make it permanent). I have no idea what will happen in the future, where jobs will take us. All I can say is we’re not ready to leave yet.

I’m trying to sort out work. I took a leave of absence from work and that is nearly up. We’ve been talking about me working from the Singapore office but I’m really not sure how that will go so I need to think about what’s next. I’m nervous about being unemployed for the first time in… well, ever really, I’ve worked for the same place almost my entire adult life. Strictly speaking I don’t need to work here but it’s an insurance policy and takes some of the pressure off Dave. And to be honest it would be very good for my sanity to have more adult contact that doesn’t revolve around schoolyard gossip!

I am looking forward to going back but at the same time there’s a part of me bleating, “but… but… I have so much I want to DO!” Yet for the past however long I haven’t been doing any of it! It’s fair clear now that I cannot make good use of my time on my own! You can probably tell I’ve been in a slump for much of the past year, which I can really only put down to feeling a bit aimless. I need external help to find some direction. It remains to be seen whether just the threat of going back to work is enough to kickstart me again.

So that’s where we are right now: still in Singapore, looking to go back to work, making other changes too. Happy 2017 everyone, I hope it is better for you than 2016 in every possible way.

08 May

Warning: contains whingeing.

I have my cranky pants on today. Next door are doing renovations, and it sounds like they’re using a jackhammer to pull the tiles off the walls in the bathroom, directly on the other side of my wall. This is day two. Yesterday it went on for nearly four hours—maybe longer, I was out in the morning–and it is driving me nuts. I cannot think straight, I’m getting a migraine from the noise. Yesterday I asked one of the workers how long they’d be doing that and he said, “it’s stopped.” Since I could barely hear him over the sound of the jackhammering at that particular moment, that was either a misunderstanding on someone’s part or a clever attempt to confuse me. And they promised that today would be quieter, and it’s not, and that is why I’m sitting in a coffee shop muttering into my latte.

I am very tired. Bianca came into our bed in the night, which always means I sleep very badly on the 4 inches of mattress I’m allowed. Then at five AM she did the old dreaming you’re on the toilet trick and wet our bed. I got her up, cleaned her up and put a towel on our bed, then she climbed back into her own and fell straight back to sleep, the little sod. I lay on my damp towel for a bit before I gave up and went downstairs to do the ironing. I could really do with a nap now but see above re: deafening noise, and also re: in public whereupon it is frowned. Grrr.

I am also cranky about myself, about the way I am failing to get out and appreciate being here. The way I live, I could be anywhere.  This week I have actually achieved stuff, I have scrubbed the kitchen and lounge and given them a good declutter but big deal! We have been here four months already. We are one sixth of the way through and I couldn’t even tell you the best bits about Singapore because I haven’t gone to look.

I’m angry and disappointed. Do you ever play that game with yourself, if I didn’t have to work, I’d do…X? Well I do, and I’m actually living that now. I am so lucky, but I feel like I’m blowing it. Instead of doing all my X’s I’m doing housework (badly), grocery shopping, and lying on the couch sweating from exhaustion after a short outing. And then the tv goes on or the mobile phone games start and it’s shit. It’s really shit. I’m really shit. So what if I’ve finally seen all the old episodes of The Mentalist? That’s NOT what this trip was about!

Forgive me if I’ve already talked about this, but I’m too tired to check. And forgive me for having a rant about the same old same old, woe is me, everything sucks and I can’t change it crap. I am tired, and I am cranky, and I am not nice to myself when that happens.

I’m reading a book at the moment, The Art of Travel, by Alain de Botton, which is essays on the theme of travel, interspersed with discussions of travels of historical explorers and poets etc. It’s interesting, but kind of a hard slog at times and I wouldn’t have chosen it myself (it’s a book club book). ANYWAY,  in the first essay he talks about how the idea of travel, and the picture we draw in our minds of our destination  is always much more idealised than reality, and that reality always disappoints, because it contains all the mundane bits our mind has ignored. So we see a photograph of a hotel on a beach and imagine a perfect idyll, but when we actually get there it smells and there’s a freeway just behind the hotel and of course all the other people getting in your way. I think maybe this trip is like that; I had a vision of me having all the time in the world to take cooking classes and do yoga and meditate and ignored the reality that Bianca’s home from school at three thirty and someone has to wash the clothes and get the food in. But at the same time, I am wasting a lot of time. I was doing better when we were at the serviced apartment, I think when we shipped all our stuff over, my old habits came too.

Oy. I think I need to have an early night, and then to delete all the games on my phone and get on with it. What about you? Have you ever taken an extended leave from your job, or real life, with the idea of fulfilling some dream, and did it work out the way you wanted it to? How did you manage it? Please, tell me I’m not the only one who struggles with this?

24 Feb

welcome to the year of the stupid

Gong xi fat cai! We had a four day long weekend to celebrate lunar new year (I can’t quite get the hang of whether it’s ok to call it Chinese new year here). Of course Dave will tell you every day is a weekend for me. Ha ha ha! He is such a funny man. Thank goat he’s gone back to work today.

Speaking of goats, I am worried this might really be the year of the stupid. Or the stupid goat. My birthdate makes me a metal pig, so you know this is possible. So this is what happened. On Friday night we decided to go down to Chinatown to see the lanterns and the general celebrations. Embrace the culture! See the dragons! Actually, we tried to do it the night before, but just as we were about to leave I realised I couldn’t find my train ticket. So we had to abort. That was the first stupid of the year. But we figured it didn’t really matter, because the celebrations go on for two weeks so we’d still get to see it all.

So anyway, Friday evening we dressed up again, Bianca in her cute little pink Chinese dress, and caught the train to Chinatown. It was busy, with lanterns everywhere, but there was nothing in particular going on. So, we checked on our phones to see where we needed to be. And that’s when the second stupid happened. You see, the celebrations do go on for two weeks… BEFORE lunar new year.

You could say we were in the right place, but the wrong time.

We were stupid tourists.

(But seriously, come on! Shouldn’t you have the party when the big holiday is happening? No? Okay, but shouldn’t you do it anyway for the stupid tourists like us? No? Well shut up.)
So instead I contented myself with taking photos of lanterns and funny signs.



I could maybe actually shop here

I could maybe actually shop here

um... no thanks

um… no thanks

Then we sampled the local delicacies at McDonald’s. After that it got dark and all the lights went on and it was just beautiful.




two tigers and a goat

two tigers and a goat

And then we took the train back home.

I think Chinatown should have dragons every day.