If you are a subscriber to our weekly newsletter, the Displaced Dispatch, you’re already in the know. But if you’re not, listen up. (Hey, why aren’t you? Off with your head!)
Every week, when that esteemed publication comes out, we present contenders for a monthly “Alice Award,” most of whom are writers or other kinds of international creatives who appear to have a special handle on the curious and unreal aspects of being a global resident or voyager.
Not only that, but this person tries to use this state of befuddlement as a spur to greater creative heights.
Today’s post honors May’s three Alice recipients. They are (drumroll…):
1) CHRISTINE GILBERT, blogger, American traveling mom & expat in Barcelona
For her post: “Why it must suck to be a parent in the US,” on her blog, Almost Fearless
Posted on: 16 May 2014
So we’re traveling across the US after living in Mexico for nearly a year and half, on our way to Europe. … [W]hen we drive to New Orleans it starts. Suddenly I am a bad parent.
… I admit, I am a permissive parent. My basic rules are this: it has to be safe and it can’t infringe on other people. … In short, my children are feral beasties but if required they can sit nicely and say “Please and Thank You” (or at least I try to get them to do that).
But I’m an American, so I have strong opinions about the idea that I have the RED WHITE AND BLUE, PATRIOTIC RIGHT to raise my children however I see fit, whether that’s homeschooling them and teaching them to speak in Klingon or letting them climb trees and juggle knives. Back off.
Citation: Christine, we never cease to enjoy a good round of the old debate about moral relativism (because no parenting method is objectively right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of all parents) versus moral universalism (a universal parenting norm applies to ALL parents regardless of age, background, ethnicity, etc.)—especially when relayed from the perspective of an expat, and one that writes as entertainingly as you do. While our own inclination is towards tolerance, we would ask you to bear in mind Alice’s “agony of terror” when she first meets the Duchess and her pig-baby. An “unusually large” saucepan flies by the baby’s head and almost take its ear off. “Oh, PLEASE mind what you’re doing!” Alice cries, to which the Duchess responds, in a hoarse growl:
“If everybody minded their own business, the world would go round a deal faster than it does.”
Now, do you identify with Alice or the Duchess? It’s a bit of a moral quandary, correct? What’s more, we’d be curious to hear if your views change at all after living with your family in Barcelona, Spain, for a while. One of us has learned firsthand of a case of an American who is bilingual in Spanish. She brought her two young daughters to Spain last summer to learn Spanish, only to discover, to her considerable consternation, that they were less obedient than Spanish kids in the playground. (No saucepans, please! We’re simply trying to make the world go round faster…)
2) Jon Langford, blogger at BBC America’s “Mind The Gap” and British expat in Manhattan
For his post: Are You Australian?: A British Expat Discusses Mistaken Nationality in America
Posted on: 5 May 2014
Communicating effectively with Americans through a thick Yorkshire accent on a daily basis can be both confusing and traumatizing.
Even though my life would be made significantly easier if I adapted my speech a little, I simply can’t bring myself to say things like war-der, toe-may-do and vie-dah-min. Not that there’s anything wrong with speaking this way, it’s just I’d rather wade through the conversational swamp than surrender my Yorkshire tongue for the sake of convenience.
Citation: Jon, your take-no-prisoners attitude towards preserving your Yorkshire accent, even at the expense of being misunderstood, strikes us as being a trifle, if we may be so bold, bloody minded. (Hey, they don’t call it Yorkshire-stubborn for nothing!) While we can appreciate your need to hold up the side for God’s Own Country, we wonder if you are coming across almost like the Hatter does in Alice in Wonderland. As you may recall, Alice feels “dreadfully puzzled” when he makes a remark that seems “to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.” But while her response is to say, as politely as she can, “I don’t quite understand you,” our fear is that New Yorkers may dispense with such courtesies and simply blurt out: “You talkin’ to me?” As you have no doubt discovered by now, they take pride in being found the rudest of all rude peoples of America. (Hmmm….has the Yorkshireman met his match?)
3) NIENKE KROOK, blogger and Dutch expat in London
For her post: Bologna Italy: Why you don’t need a map to explore this city, on her blog, The Travel Tester
Posted on: 29 April 2014
Ditch the map in Bologna. Like any classic Italian city, the whole joy of a visit to Bologna is getting lost and losing track of time and space.
Citation: Nienke, we congratulate you for being so willing to let go of your Type A personality while traveling in Italy. especially when exploring a city of Bologna’s ample charms. We would, however, suggest just one small addition to your declaration: “Ditch the map and the watch in Bologna.” If one must carry a timepiece in Italy, let it be the Hatter’s, not the White Rabbit’s! As you may recall from reading Alice in Wonderland as a kid (they read it in Holland, right?), the Hatter and Time do not get along. His watch is frozen at six o’clock. Fascinated by this revelation, Alice says: “Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?” Yes, indeed, it is, Alice. In Wonderland you can always have tea and cakes, while in Italy you can always feast on a bit of the sweet life, or la dolce vita, just as long as all five senses are open to the possibility. To repeat (which we think may be necessary for a Type A person), pleasure and indulgence do not come from checking one’s watch!
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So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, or have you read any recent posts you think deserve an Alice Award? We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on the shortlist of Alice contenders we provide in each week’s Dispatch, which are sources of creative thought if nothing else! Get on our subscription list now!
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