Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at email@example.com.
As a Japanese expat living in New York, I’m finding myself becoming increasingly unsympathetic to my adopted city. Don’t get me wrong, Wallace-sama, I love it here. It’s just that I’ve found the hysteria surrounding first the earthquake and then Hurricane Irene a little hard to take considering the natural disasters Japan has had to deal with this year. Any advice for how I could stop these uncharitable thoughts that I am having?
— SY, New York City (originally Tokyo)
Let me tell you a little story. There was once an attractive, physically fit young girl. She wasn’t from anywhere exciting, just a small town girl from West Virginia. Her father was a police officer in the town. When this young girl was 10, her father was shot and killed when apprehending a robbery. The girl was sent to Montana to live with her uncle. She didn’t like it in Montana, certainly not on the sheep farm her uncle owned. She tried to run away, to where she didn’t know, she just knew she wanted to be anywhere but Montana. But as she ran she witnessed something awful, the lambs from her uncle’s farm being slaughtered for market. She heard their cries, she still does, SY. She still does — when she dreams. It didn’t stop her running, though — she kept running this small girl.
The girl spent the rest of her childhood in a Lutheran orphanage. It was okay, though she still dreamt of the lambs. The girl was smart, though: she had gumption, she had tenacity and she was able to enroll into the University of Virginia on a full scholarship. When she left college, she applied to the FBI’s training academy. It was the late 70s, it wasn’t easy being one of the only women in the academy. But this girl got on with it. She was uncomplaining, and she was the best, she knew that. None of that sexist bull sticks when you know that.
On completing the training, this girl, now a young woman, joined the Behavioral Science Unit. She was part of a team that traced down serial killers — tried to get in their heads, think like they think. She was sent to a Baltimore asylum for her first interview, to meet with a serial killer who just might be able to help her with the case she had been assigned…
…Sorry, I digress, but the point, SY-san, is that that young girl was, in fact, little ol’ me. Yes, hard to believe, I know. I wasn’t always an agony aunt. Anyhoo, the point is some serious s**t went down. Some really creepy, really heavy stuff. So when I get invited round to Valerie Johnson’s for our book club meeting (second Tuesday of the month — we’re reading The Help at the moment; FABULOUS, you MUST read it), and Valerie starts recounting how she thought there was a robber in her garden the other day and she feared she was going to die — even though it just turned out to be Miguel, her 60-year-old Hispanic gardener — I just bite my tongue. Of course, I want to tell Valerie that she doesn’t know fear until she’s been trapped in a house with a serial killer knowing only one of you is going to get out of there alive. No, that would be rude. So I just sip my raspberry lemonade and nod politely as Valerie talks. New York, dear SY, is your Valerie Johnson. Tolerate her, SY, no matter how much you’d like to wring her neck.
Anyhoo, that’s all from me readers. I’m so keen to hear about your cultural issues and all your juicy problems. Do drop me a line with any problems you have, or if you want to share your fave meatloaf recipe with me (yum! yum!). As they say in Italy, “ciao!” — or, as my (still!) unmarried youngest son (he’s nearly thirty, I despair of him, I really do) might say: “See you on the flip.”
Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. She has taken a credited course in therapy from Tulsa Community College and is the best-selling author of Traveling Made Easy, Low-Fat Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, The Art of War: The Authorized Biography of Samantha Brown, and William Shatner’s TekWar: An Unofficial Guide. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by adding to the comments below.
img: Close, by Corina Sanchez.
STAY TUNED for Monday’s post, on the wide variety of vehicles that have been used for road trips.
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