And so it's March. My official first month of unemployment since... I don't remember when. Granted I still have a handful of clients, writing assignments and regular email pitches to send out, but it has been a while since I don't have a routine and since my job at Sassy Singapore ended last week, I have been trying not to feel like an invalid.
Save for the few months when a magazine I worked at shut down during the recession, I have never not been busy in my life. When I didn't have a full time gig, I had freelance gigs, and even when I had a regular gig the past few years, I was also juggling multiple things at the same time. It's bizarre to suddenly... have time. I know it's temporary... this waiting on immigration papers thing before I can get a job and actually feel normal. But still strange for now.
That aside, you're told a lot of things before you embark on a new part of your life. You're not just there "for the time being while you study", you're not there to travel. You know you will miss your mum and her food, you know you will miss your regular $3 nasi campur spot and your raw fish bowl lunches with your BFF. But on the other hand, here are some things nobody told you about moving across the world...
#1 It's a lonely business
I know the expat wife struggle in Singapore (aside from the skanky SPGS trying to steal their husbands, and the flip side, husbands who can't keep it in their pants). Unlike people who move to another country for school, or for work, I am not in an environment at this moment where I will be interacting with people. I go to the gym, and I go home to cook. I make friends with John's friends, but I don't have any of my own yet.
Thank GOD for technology of course. I fervently be WhatsApping Natasha, I have a daily Facetime date with my Mama, texting my cousin in Sydney, multiple social media-ing with Andrea, amongst other things.
#2 You spend too long a time trying to figure out currency.
Let's start with the fact that I am incapable of counting. So first, I have to figure out what the Singapore is, against what I'm about to purchase. Of course XE.com doesn't give you the same rates as the bank, and the bank rates in Singapore are different from that here.
On top of that, American money in itself is confusing. Why did they make all the dollar bills the same colour?! Plus, I have only managed to identify what a quarter dollar coin is, so I have a very full ziplock bag of coins.
#3 What used to work for your hair and skin no longer works.
Save for Nigel my monthly period zit that I just leave be, I know what to do to my skin when it's acting up, etc. I had it down pat - between a facialist, to go-to products, from my hair all the way down to my toes. Suddenly, I have to figure all that out again. I've thankfully, found a drugstore shampoo + conditioner combo that works and keeps my curls instead of straightening out - which happens heaps to my fine hair here when there's no humidity. I've found an Indian auntie who threads my brows, and I'm still depending on Dermalogica.
Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, I get ashy! I drink 3 litres of water a day and I'm still dry. I put light moisturizer on in Singapore, but I have to depend on those thick, heavy duty soufflé types. And oils! I love face oils and I'm dependant on Josie Maran's all day errrday. I've yet to find a good drugstore makeup remover and a water-based sunscreen (Biore, I miss you), but I'll have it figured out.
Have I mentioned my lips are always dry now? FML.
#4 Water doesn't taste the same.
It's a weird thing I have. I love the convenience of drinking water from the tap, and thankfully, you can drink tap water in LA too. Unfortunately, water doesn't taste like water that you're used to for over 20 years of your existence. I mean, when you travel, you brush it off because you're going to come home anyway, but I'm still trying to get used to the taste of water. Which is such a weird thing to say.