Get It In Writing


Now that Mr. Understanding is back in the air and has no internet access for awhile, I thought I’d share a few stories from the last two weeks, to the betterment of expat spouses worldwide, and so that the rest of you don’t think we are without our issues and that our life is one extended spa date. Oh, that it were …

Before agreeing to move to China, I created a wish list of items that were non-negotiable on my part. Herewith a smattering of topics common to expat assignments everywhere, items ripe for marital strife and discord:

1) While I generally trust my partner to select countries to live in, I do not let him select houses. There is a reason for this. On Day 1 of my house hunting trip I saw a plethora of large, overpriced houses with moldy basements, ten foot “crystal” chandeliers, karaoke parlors, and funky décor. One house had textured swirls of copper paint all over the walls – jarring to say the least. Another, in a Spanish-esque “Villa” community my husband had previously scoped out, had Indian (?) arches in every door frame and a twenty foot high carved fireplace with a Hindu god and scenes from the Kama Sutra. Then there was the house with the tiny bedrooms, thirty foot floor to ceiling windows, and an elevator. Mr. Understanding would have been happy in any of these houses – mainly because he would only be sleeping there. It is not his domain. The house I selected is a brand new, 4500 sq. foot, 4 storey, Tudor model. One cannot eat in the long galley kitchen but the dog has a yard. I am not complaining, just stating the facts.

2) Another such item was not agreeing to the housing allowance allotted in the offer letter until I had scoped out the country itself and seen the accommodations. How can one make a rational decision without first seeing a place? Mr. Understanding conveniently forgot that, in my mind, this was a pending item and still up for negotiation.

3) Executive/business class airline tickets. This is not a mere case of elitism. As Angel is nearly 6 ft. tall at 13 years of age and I have a herniated lumbar disk, stretching out is essential for the two of us. Furthermore, I do not want to be separated from the other two children as I am usually flying without Mr. Understanding. I have flown cattle car grade for 12 years – ja basta.

4) Finally, there is the matter of air freight shipments. Mr. U forgot a few of the items we discussed putting in our air freight shipment from the US. After living abroad for 12 years, my pots and pans, mattresses, and linens are tired and I a) did not feel like paying thrice the price for the above items of sub par quality b) did not feel like lugging them in 20 suitcases to China and c) forewent my local air freight shipment. Why pack another pancake griddle in a suitcase if you don’t have to?

The bottom line: get it in writing, you trailing spouses. I am a slow learner despite the law degree. There is no excuse for my laxity. You, however, have been forewarned. When one is moving for six months, people are bound to forget entire conversations and to micromanage petty details. So before you get your panties in a bunch over a Kitchen Aid Mix Master, go get yourself and your partner a pad of paper and a pen. No need to sign in blood but don’t use disappearing ink either.

*(Note to expats: if you get the executive class seats for flights over 4 hours, you can usually trade them in for 2 home leaves per year in the cattle car section as that is still way cheaper than business class seats).

**Addendum: apparently Mr. U does have internet access and he wrote me a lovely email from that made the seemingly endless weeks of separation almost tolerable. I had already written this, but not published it, so he made me feel like the petty princess I am (albeit one who will be sleeping on a smaller, Brazilian mattress whose linens won’t fit).



Filed under Life, Luggage, Misunderstandings, Moving, People, Princessdom, Travel

10 responses to “Get It In Writing

  1. MCV

    “so that the rest of you don’t think we are without our issues and that our life is one extended spa date. ” Another house? In Florida? Enough said! 😉

  2. Mr. Understanding

    Please note this blog will be cancelled immediately for inappropriate content.

  3. Susan O'Leary

    As one of her partners in crime in Brazil, I will attest that all these items were throughly gone over before the aggreement to go to China. There were other items on the list, but do to their extreme nature were left off before presenting to Mr. Understanding.

  4. Expat:
    I can’t imagine the chaos of moving an entire household. I saw the Tudor; MSC showed it to me, and it’s lovely if I do say so myself.

    I dreamt about you last night. I will be in Guangzhou 6/11 – 6/22 bringing home Song Song. I can’t wait to see you on 7/4!!!!


  5. Leezer:
    Love your dreams! I hope it was a good one!!! Mr. U will be in Brazil just when you are in China – you will have to schedule one of your Chinese culture/reunion trips for my new home town. Does Song Song have a new name? I think we will be serving champagne!!! God Bless America.

  6. MCV

    Leezer, I’m having a hard time posting to your site. So, I’ve been meaning to tell you for quite some time that I ADORE the name Meredith. There aren’t many of us and it’s not hooky. Looks good on a diploma (an expat princess qualification–sound I might add). Or, how about just shortening her first name to Song? Can’t wait to see you. Hope you are still on for the 206425 dinner club next Saturday. Georgia is to come as well.

  7. expatprincess

    MCV: were you confused as to whose blog you were posting on?

  8. HBA Queen

    I love this blog of yours! I hope I can get over to China to see you soon. We are in the midst of our own relocation (50 miles). Not very exciting but will keep you posted.

  9. HBA Queen:
    This means you finally got my valentine! You are always moving so you should be a pro. Could you please explain for our readers the significance of HBAs? I am moving an all time low amount of product to China although I do have some shower gel left ….

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