A Cultural Orphan

280 days since my feet left American soil, and I can’t believe we are already looking ahead to our trip back to Seattle for the holidays in little over a month.  This year has mostly gone by unbelievably fast, but as of late I’ve been homesick, so it feels like it’s plodding along slowly now.  In such a short time I feel like I’ve learned more about the world than I have in all my 33 years of life, which had been filled with travel & experiences.  I’ve gone through a progression that started with practically fleeing the U.S., rolling my eyes at its “backward ways” (lack of gun control, so much global unawareness by a vast majority of people there, a sense of national elitism that drives the rest of the world crazy)… that gave way to a feeling of being a cultural orphan.  I wonder if anyone reading this will understand that phrase….In this enormous condo we find ourselves living in, we are actually the only Americans living here.  Among thousands of people.  In a broader sense, I actually only have one American friend here in Singapore at all (and she was originally born in Singapore, haha!  I’m looking at you, Cindy! 🙂 ) So I’m definitely playing the role of minority, and if I want to commemorate our holidays or traditions from home at all, I really have to work for it, or it will breeze by like any other Tuesday (4th of July?  What’s that?).  In fact, I currently sit wondering how in the world to cook a turkey in our micro-oven for Thanksgiving.  Fun fact: I used PRECIOUS shipping container space to bring all my baking sheets only to discover none of them fit my oven, no matter how I turn them.  So, that’s something.
I want to give my kids these experiences they are missing from home, but honestly it takes far more effort here to do so than ever before.

We did follow the Olympics this past summer, but being at the mercy of time zones & local tv stations, we ended up watching more fencing, table tennis, badminton, weight lifting, and judo than we did of America’s signature sports.  I confess, I didn’t watch a single gymnastic event, and that’s actually my FAVORITE thing to watch.
Jon helped me stream the world series games here over the past couple of weeks…and that helped me feel connected to home, and the city I spent a decade of my life in.  There was a mental weirdness, watching the games live at 9 in the morning, drinking my coffee, instead of a celebratory beer.  In hindsight, I’m not sure if my tears at the Cubs amazing win had more to do with them breaking the 108 years curse, or just feeling homesick that I wasn’t home while all this went on.
And in two days I’ll be watching the election results roll in when I wake up too, while all of you back home struggle to stay awake to learn the fate of our country.  In the short time that we streamed Fox Sports to our tv here, we caught our first and only glimpse of the smear campaigning you guys have endured for the past year.  My Danish friend, Agata, watched the final game with me and I wont forget her staring at the screen with her mouth agape, as a presidential commerical rolled on screen.  HORRIFYING, you guys.  Embarassing.

I don’t think any more words will help me describe how weird of a feeling it is to be physically displaced from your home during big national events like this.  For good or for bad, it feels a tiiiiny bit like self-inflicted exile.

Since we moved here, Jon’s sweet mom has lost both of her parents.  Friends are announcing new babies on the way (my best friend delivered her second little girl four days after we moved…so brutal.  When I meet her she’ll be 11 months old!).  Life and death continue ever on, and while facetime & social media have really brought everyone I love much closer to me than what would have been in the past, it is still heartbreaking and isolating.
Since Day 1 of arriving here I’ve had to adjust to what it feels like to watch my facebook feed grow quieter, and then completely silent by about 1 in the afternoon.  My circle of family and friends keep pretty normal bedtime hours, which means that by 10 am-noon, I can no longer text or call anybody I love back home with news or even a “Hey, whats up? (read: I’m lonely!)”  I go thru the majority of my day knowing everyone back home is asleep, and then that side of the world starts rising again when I am literally crawling in bed and closing my eyes.  That alone was the biggest relief in making friends here, was just to have ANYONE to talk to about anything.

So, I guess I am sounding very much like Eyore right about now.  This is so not why I decided to blog today.  I wanted to be funny, and share some of the Singaporean quirks that drive me absolutely crazy.
For instance: How the local business hours around here are absolutely killing me, in that they don’t begin until 11 am.  Yeah, ELEVEN.  Which sounds hilarious until you’re needing to mail or buy something, and it’s 10 in the morning and nothing is open yet.
Along those lines, it’s perfectly normal to be out on a thursday evening in a mall, and see entire families out with their babies at 10 o’clock at night.  Totally normal bedtime for kids around here is 10 or later….also totally normal to see people pushing their sleeping kids around in strollers during their naptimes.  This may not be true for everybody back in the states, but generally I feel like we revolve around kid’s sleeptimes, amirite?  You nap at this time (at home, preferably in bed) and you go to sleep by this time (usually between 7-8).
Once again, since I’m one of the only Americans I know, I get incredulous looks regularly from people who have asked me what time my kids go to sleep.  And what their naps look like.  Wake up at 7ish, nap at 12ish, sleep at 7:30ish.
It isn’t just their babies and toddlers that are going to sleep late…it’s common practice here for kids of elementary & secondary school to stay up til 10-11 doing homework, and then back to the school grind early the next morning.  I really don’t know how this culture sustains this level of sleep deprivation.
So anyway, to this American, Libraries & stores not opening until 11 is a major thorn in my side.

Time with just Max has become more rare with him in full-time kindergarten.  He loves school, thankfully, but I do miss our one-on-ones.

Him in traditional Diwali clothes on the left, and his ninja halloween costume on the right.

Jon’s & my ten-year anniversary came & went, which we spent taking the kids down to Gardens by the Bay and did the treetop walk there, and played around with the kids.  Jon & I did dinner & a movie later….I had to scale my mind back in how I always pictured a 10-year anniversary should look.  This is when you go big, right?!  We haven’t killed each other in ten years time!!
Reality is that with littles, there is not much rest, nor do you feel like partying all night long.  Life is good and exhausting these days, but I know soon enough we’ll have all the kid-free time in the world, and we’ll be wishing for these days back.

Max & I were able to explore the aquarium during his fall break from school.  We had such a good time, and it’s one of the better aquariums I’ve found since moving away from Chicago.

Local food finds.  I’m not sure I trust the sourcing of that blueberry juice.  I’m going to make my father-in-law verify it’s authenticity when they visit in February.  Jon & I are obsessed with a handful of asian foods here….dumplings being one, a spicy fried green bean & pork dish, Indian biryani with prata & curry dipping sauce, really good & authentic ramen soup (oh man…if you haven’t tried it yet, please search for it!!!!)….I don’t like to think about going home someday and not having all of these things at my fingertips at all times.

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Monsoon season is upon us, and our weather map is looking like this more & more of the time.  It seems like Max is starting to grow accustomed to the night storms…not so much terror in the middle of the night, which is good for everyone.

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But mostly life has been slow and steady lately.  No big outings….nothing that seems very noteworthy.  Just raising kids like many of you are doing back home, just…in a different place.  Life is good, and for all the ways that this country gives me hives of frustration…. it is a good place to live.  Clean, safe, and by God does everyone follow the rules.  Annoyingly so, ha.

At the rate I blog, I wonder if I’ll get another entry in before we head back home to visit…

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One Comment Add yours

  1. suewhite18 says:

    I can’t imagine what it must be like to watch the idiotic behavior of our two presidential candidates, which does not look presidential at all. Embarrassing would be the correct way to describe it. I feel for you to be so far away and know how hard it must be to not be able to communicate with any of us. We feel the same way! Next time let’s stream events you want to see. I will tape them and then FaceTime you so you can watch them.😂😂😂😂😂 I can’t wait to see you in 37 days! You are always in our thoughts and prayers! Love you so much!!!!!😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Like

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