18 months, 340 posts….it all comes down to 7
I’ve just been invited by Kirsten of Funny Little World to participate in ‘The 7 Links Blog Project‘. For this project, bloggers from all over the world make a list of their top posts in a range of categories, creating a sort of one-stop shop for 7 notable posts from their blog. Each blogger than extends this project by inviting 3 others to participate.
This is the letter I wrote to Elanor on her second birthday. While I don’t use Expat Bostonians as a parenting blog per se, I am a mom. Watching her grow up and come into her own as a person has been one of the most fascinating (which is not to say not also frustrating at times) experiences I’ve had.
When I read back through my previous entries, this is the post that made me stop and smile at the memory. Maybe it’s being pregnant again, but when I think about the posts that I would most like my girls to read when they’re older, this is probably one of the first I think of, even though it’s not so much about being an expat or the move. It’s just about life.
MY MOST POPULAR POST
I have to admit I’m kind of baffled by the unrelenting popularity of this post..it’s actually the third result in a google search for “voyage de la vie review” and the 9th link when you google “voyage de la vie” (and is the first blog link listed). I’m not a professional reviewer…I’m just someone who has seen a LOT of theater in her day and who loves theater, and thus is fairly opinionated about theater.
This could also fall under “most suprisingly successful post” because in the year since I’ve written it, there hasn’t been a week when it wasn’t a top search term or top viewed post and quite honestly, I find that baffling! Further, while it has the most page views, there are NO comments!
When I wrote this post, I thought I was just writing a “this is a local thing I find strange” post. The post generated the most comments in the history of my blog (only 24, but that’s a lot for me), and started a fascinating discussion about race, gender,and beauty ideals. I’ve been meaning to do a longer, more thoughtful and purposeful post on those topics for a while now, and rediscovering this post and remembering the discussion it inspired has re-motivated me.
MY MOST HELPFUL POST
Usually I am baffled by Singapore (although less and less with the passage of time) or find myself at a loss to explain “Americans” or “Western” stuff. (I really can’t explain the election of W…sorry…I’m still mystified by it as well) to Singaporeans.
This was one brief shining moment where I actually understood both sides of a US/Singapore disconnect and felt confident in explaining it to both sides. Long story short was that Seth Rogen appeared on a talk show (Conan O’Brien) and from the American perspective cracked a few funny jokes about Singapore–from Singapore, he BASHED their home country and was incredibly dismissive and rude.
I had considered some of my expat to expat advice for this column, but I think that this was actually more helpful and helpful on a broader scale.
My friend Maria wrote a great blog post about how to “Become an Ugly Expat in 12 easy steps” which really resonated with me. In part because it’s a great post, and in part because it tugged at a few insecurities of mine…namely that I might kind of suck at this whole “expat thing” after dreaming of living abroad my whole life.
As with the skin whitening post, when I wrote it, I was mostly just trying to unpack my feelings and my fears. But the ensuing conversation (which was fantastic, and the only other post besides the skin whitening one to inspire 20+ comments) really inspired me to redefine what I think makes a “good” expat and how it’s actually okay that I take my time to adjust.
It was also around this time that I really began to feel like I was part of an expat blogging community instead of just a fringe lurker. That I might actually have something valuable to say about this experience, rather than just making a blog of random adventures around Singapore. I began to feel more confident in my voice and I’m really proud of how this post became such a turning point for me, at least mentally/emotionally.
Maybe it’s the crappy title I gave the post, but I really feel like this was a great, and thoughtful post that has been totally overlooked. Granted it is a long post and it is picture and video heavy.
This post describe a day long adventure with Siam Safari in Phuket Thailand. In doing so, I talk about the questionable ethics of elephant trekking and “eco-tourism” in general. I worry about treating people’s lives (the Karen people who work at Siam Safari specifically…and this was before Kirsten educated me far more thoroughly on their lives) as a tourist attraction.
Phuket is a common vacation destination from Singapore, and elephant trekking is one of their biggest tourist draws, so this is probably the post that I wish I could ask people to go back and really read and comment upon. If I were writing it today, I would probably have given it a better title and tried to make it a little less dense in terms of pictures and video (or done two posts, with one specifically talking about my mixed emotions on the subject). But if you’re a new reader-I highly recommend going back and reading (and commenting) on this post.
POST I AM MOST PROUD OF
Having a helper (or a maid, if you prefer) has been one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had. Being an expat is loaded with opportunities for miscommunication, cultural misunderstanding and frustration. Having a person with different cultural baggage, who is an employee in your home only multiplies and magnifies those opportunities.
The trickiest part of navigating all of this is when one or both people see something as “obvious”. This post was born of a misunderstanding created when I thought it was “obvious” how to make a pbj (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich, when it wasn’t to B.
I’m most proud of this post because I allowed myself to be honest, to detail where *I* had screwed up. I’m honest about how these moments of conflict are uncomfortable and challenging to navigate, particularly for the Western Expat who has never had this sort of experience before. It’s the post I wish I had read 18 months ago before I hired a maid–and still occasionally need to read and be reminded of to help prevent frustration on both sides of the employer/helper relationship.
You never want to let frustration over these small things outweigh the biggest positive–there is someone else in your home who loves and respects your child and wants only the best for them. Another person who loves your child and only wants the best for them is only ever a good thing.
So there you have it, the best of the best….or so I think. I hope new readers will go back and enjoy some older posts. I read and respond to every comment left (minus the spam) and would love to see you engage with some of these older entries.
I’m asking the following bloggers to come play 7 links!