Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Here Come The Brits!

Never leave the house without your burkhini!

"Her first book has turned into an overnight success." Anne-Marie Parnell of the British Association Magazine in Singapore.

As my friend Kath would say: I am chuffed!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Defining Irony

You wrote about capital punishment and caning? Then, you've got to ask yourself:
"Do I feel lucky?"

The dictionary defines irony as the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. In order to better illustrate this point, here are 10 recent, real life scenarios:

1) A local newspaper publishes a random excerpt from Diary of An Expat in Singapore. Funnily enough, they choose the most controversial bit. It's okay, I've got my valise ready. "It was a good run. Really liked those dumplings."

2) Being chosen as key note speaker at a business conference for entrepreneurs after approaching them for marketing tips. Quickest promotion ever. You can't make this stuff up.

3) Worrying that people I wrote about in the book would be offended. The only people offended were the ones not mentioned. "What, you had nothing bad to say about Americans in the Politically Incorrect Expat Profiling chapter? As an American, I find that offensive."

4) Adding your book to a popular reader website because a friend recommends it as a good way of getting publicity. Not for the fainthearted.

5) Your Dad liking the book but also compiling a list of mistakes/unclear points he wants to go over with you next time he sees you. Sudden flashbacks to those, oh so joyous times, when he tried teaching you to tell time in the first grade. (The fact that after looking at the clock you randomly guessed: "Two? Three-thirty? Five?" didn't help).

6) Post-publishing book placement. Business? If you say so. Biography? Possibly. Military Highlights? I'm going to have to go with no.

7) Singaporeans telling you they really liked your book...after everybody has already left the book launch. Flattering yet slightly mystifying. I guess you didn't hear when the question "Do Singaporeans like your book?" came up. Repeatedly.

8) Random people sharing with you their ideas for a book. (Thanks, but newsflash, I'm the author not the publisher.)

9) Receiving the most awesome feedback ever: "I feel like I know you." But also getting asked: "Would you ever consider...(What? Being on TV? Having my own talk show?)...helping my son with his SAT's?"

10) Relatives still waiting for their free copy. "I have no free copies. I would actually have to buy it for you." (Sure, you would. We'll just wait.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Perks of International Day

Viva l'Italia
1) You get to see where your child thinks they are from.

2) You get to find out where their friends really are from.

3) A soccer jersey is a totally acceptable outfit (gondola get-up being difficult to assemble at that hour in the morning).

4) You get to watch chinese students, visiting your kid's school from Beijing, sing and dance on stage to Justin Bieber songs. They're surprisingly good.

5) Your son's creativity is tested. "Hmmm, I don't have anything specifically 'Italian' to wear.  I know, I'll just dress really, really well."

6) Cultural stereotypes are encouraged: "What Jen, no pizza this year?"

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Perks of Having a Baby

Scenes of yesteryear: Alexander, fifth member of the Beatles,
holding baby sis Eliot, hailing from a Peruvian flute band

In the words of Anne Lamott: "Having a baby is like getting the world's worst roommate, " but there are also many perks. Okay, full disclosure, not that many. But there are some perks. This is not an oxymoron or the title of a new science fiction series. You just need to recognize them as such.

1) For example, you get to discover what it feels like to be vomited on.
2) You're less fussy about food. Since you no longer have the energy to breathe, let alone cook, your dinner is now disgusting looking baby food that even the baby doesn't want to eat.
3) You realize the importance of the little things. In other words, baby wipes and goldfish crackers.
4) The sense of accomplishment you feel, the first time you get that darn romper with all the snaps on, is priceless. Even the baby might begrudgingly give you a look of admiration: "Okay, you did it. I'll give you that. But what about my diaper, smarty pants?"
5) You are truly in touch with your emotions. You now dread things you never thought you'd dread. "You don't understand, that was his favorite pacifier. He'll notice the difference."
6) Admiration for others. "He's not a baby. He's an evil genius."
7) That college class in semantics pays off. After the tenth time you wake up during the night, to put the pacifier back in his mouth you fully appreciate the expression: "Just shoot me now."
8) Watching Mary Poppins and The Aristocats is part of the job description. Toddlers are creatures of habit so choose wisely that first movie, lest you spend a year watching men dressed as bananas in pyjamas.
9) You get to gauge your index of resistance should you ever be captured by a terrorist cell. Sleep deprivation being one of the most common forms of torture.
10) And finally, you get to find out what's playing on TV at 4:00 am. Not much, unless you're interested in Alaskan crab fishing. Strangely addictive, at least for me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best Thing About Being a Girl

Alexander enjoying the odds (7 yr old beauties from left: Jessica, Eliot, Maddie, and Sienna)

Best thing about being a girl brought to you by a 'totally random' group of 7 yr old girls.
(With such self-confidence at 7, it's a mystery that only 20% women hold a political office...but that's another blog.)

1) It's kind of embarrassing to be a boy....because boys can't spin around.

2) If girls wear a bracelet that's not really nice...they still actually look nice.

3) We're really talented at drawing.

4) We're pretty no matter what.

5) We can wear everything we want: pants or dresses.

6) I feel sorry for people who are boys because they get into fights.

7) You don't get hurt as much when you're a girl.

8) Girls are pretty powerful.

9) Oh yeah, girls rule...boys drool.

Sibling Matters

"Can I watch you play Minecraft?" Of course, you can.

"You know,  Alexander. I went on a bike with Daddy in the real world."

What do you mean, Eliot...the real world?

"You know, not the sidewalk. The street, where there are cars."

Friday, November 1, 2013

On Cultural Integration

"7 is a good age to be," by Eliot (last day as a 7yr old)
Lately, I've been asked a lot about the differences between Singapore and Italy; and in particular, about cultural integration. As usual, it's the kids who have the best answers.

1) Eliot, what do you think is the best thing about being an expat kid?
"I forgot, what does expat mean again?"

2) What is the best thing about living in Singapore?
"My friends and my family."

3) What is Singapore like?
"It rains there."

4) What is Italy like?
"It snows there."

5) Have you seen the snow there?

6) Are the people different in Singapore compared to those in Italy?
"Yes. They wear short-sleeves because it is hot. But in Italy they wear long sleeves."

7) Do you do different things in Italy compared to Singapore?
"Yes. In Italy, I don't do swimming. In Singapore, I do swimming."

8) Finish this sentence to an Italian friend: You should come to Singapore because...
"Because it's fun, you can have a big pool, and there are so much fun places to go to...like Legoland in Malaysia."

9) Have you gone to Legoland in Malaysia? "No."

10) Finish this sentence to a Singaporean friend: You should come to Italy because...
"Because it's fun...you can do stuff and there's a beach. Verona is nice because it snows and you can see the mountains from there."

11) Do you prefer the food in Italy or in Singapore?
"In Singapore because they have curry noodles."

12) And finally, is it easier to be Italian or Singaporean?
"Singaporean, because you get to speak English."