The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Category Archives: 2013 Alice Awards

And the December 2013 Alices go to … these 2 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

If you are a subscriber to our weekly newsletter, Displaced Dispatch, you’re already in the know. But if you’re not (and why aren’t you? off with your head!), listen up. 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 to their advantage, as a spur to greater creative heights.

Today’s post honors December’s two Alice recipients.

Starting with the most recent, and this time with annotations, they are (drumroll…):

1) LAURENCE BROWN, British expat in Indiana and blogger at Lost in the Pond

For his post: “7 British Christmas Songs That Somehow Never Made it Big in the US” 
Posted on: 27 November 2013
Snippet:

Growing up in the United Kingdom, one of the more memorable elements of Christmas was the music that bombarded the airwaves day-in-day-out from November onward. And I’m talking huge hits, many of which shot to number one and continued their popularity some twenty, thirty, perhaps forty years after their release. And yet, as I embark on my sixth Christmas in the United States, it has come to my attention that these same hits—ones I initially assumed were likely just as big in the U.S.—are nowhere to be heard.

Citation:  Frankly, Lawrence, we were so busy lamenting the lack of attention given to Carols from Kings that it hadn’t yet dawned on us that Americans are also missing out on Cliff Richard crooning “Christmas time, mistletoe and wine…” And you have a point: Why would anyone States-side wish to hear yet another rendition of Andy Williams singing “Everybody knows some turkey”—yep, that’s you, Andy!—”and some mistletoe/Help to make the season bright…” when they could break it up with Cliff from time to time? And you are so right, the song’s Christian overtones would not go amiss in this part of the world. (Forgive the aside, but does anyone in Indiana know the words to the Robert-Burns-poem-converted-to-New-Year’s-dirge “Auld Lang Syne”, or is that a lacuna as well? Genuinely curious…) We congratulate you for uncovering some prime through-the-looking-glass territory. It’s jolly difficult to have a proper holiday if the music is missing or doesn’t sound right, as anyone who spends Christmas in Vietnam will tell you—there the bands in the restaurants serenade you with things like: “Have yourself a merry little Crease-mass.” And as Alice herself found out when she joined the Mad Hatter for what she thought would be a proper tea party:

“’Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!’

You know the song, perhaps?”

“I’ve heard something like it,” said Alice.

“It goes on, you know,’ the Hatter continued, “in this way:—

‘Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea-tray in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle—'”

2) JULIE FALCONER, travel writer and social media consultant, Californian based in London, and blogger at A LADY IN LONDON

For her post: Lady’s Expat Holiday Blunders
Posted on: 28 November 2013
Snippet:

I picked [a cracker] up, pulled both ends, popped out the surprise gift and paper crown, and looked up to find everyone at the table staring at me in horror. It was one of a long series of expat moments when I knew that I had done something wrong, and that nobody was going to tell me exactly what.

I gently set the cracker and its contents down, flashed my most sheepish “sorry, I’m a foreigner” smile, and waited. Slowly, each person at the table picked up one end of a cracker, offered the other end to someone else, and played a little game of tug of war. So that’s what I did wrong.

Citation:  Julie, we are sorry to have to inform you of this, but it’s time to crack on with the old cracker techniques because, crackpot as it may sound, crackers have arrived over here in the United States, at Target no less! Though the difference is that you have to show your driver’s license when you buy them because they are technically “firecrackers.” Now that’s crackers, if you ask us! Now, we do hope the English friends who witnessed their rather unfortunate self-cracking episode were a little more tolerant than Alice’s Red Queen (perhaps they thought it fitting in this era of selfies?) and let you keep the surprise gift and paper crown. In which case, you can count yourself a little luckier than our poor sweet heroine:

“You look a little shy; let me introduce you to that leg of mutton,” said the Red Queen. “Alice—Mutton; Mutton—Alice.” The leg of mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow to Alice; and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be frightened or amused.

“May I give you a slice?” she said, taking up the knife and fork, and looking from one Queen to the other.

“Certainly not,” the Red Queen said, very decidedly: “it isn’t etiquette to cut any one you’ve been introduced to. Remove the joint!”

*  *  *

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!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, a TCK Talent interview by Lisa Liang!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance the contenders for our monthly Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the November 2013 Alices go to … these 5 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

If you are a subscriber to our weekly newsletter, Displaced Dispatch, you’re already in the know. But if you’re not (and why aren’t you? off with your head!), listen up. Every week, when that esteemed publication comes out, we present an “Alice Award” to a writer or other kind of creative person who we think has 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 to their advantage, as a spur to greater creative heights.

Today’s post honors November’s five Alice recipients.

Starting with the most recent, and this time with annotations, they are (drumroll…):

1) MATT HERSHBERGER, intrepid traveler, former expat in UK, and blogger at A Man Without a Country

For his post: Why I don’t take pictures when I travel, on Matador Network
Published: 18 November 2013
Snippet:

If you’re a good photographer, by all means, keep taking pictures. I need something to fuel my nostalgia addiction when I’m trapped in my cubicle at work. But if you’re not a great photographer, put down the camera. Enjoy the giraffe.

Citation: Matt, as you may know, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, fancied himself as something of a photographer, even toying with the idea of making a living from his photos. But it’s a good thing for posterity that he decided to turn to words instead (while still leaving us with a photo or two of his youthful muse, Alice Liddell). And probably also a good thing that he left off illustrating the book; otherwise, we’d be deprived of the extraordinary drawings of Sir John Tenniel. (That said, Carroll’s own drawings of Alice aren’t half bad.) We suspect that Charles/Lewis would chime in with you and say: “Like me, you moderns should find your niche and stick to it; practice your craft and stop faffing about.” Unfortunately, though, we suspect that even (especially?) Mr. Carroll would be fatally attracted to some of our modern-day gadgetry and communications techniques, the ubiquitous cell phone having turned us all into Victorian tinkerers of a sort, who attempt to do everything from blogging to design to photography to videos without much (if any) training—a case of doing many things badly instead of a few things well. And the presence of social media encourages us to share the rather meager fruits of our labors with everyone else, as though they were works of staggering genius. Still, we unreservedly endorse your “enjoy the giraffe” campaign—so much more creative.

2) Architectural historian JANIE RICE BROTHER, American expat in UK and blogger at FH & FAG

For her post: “The Geffrye Museum and the History of the Almshouse” for the Smitten by Britain blog
Posted on: 22 November 2013
Snippet (after noting that the Geffrye Museum in Shoreditch occupies the building and grounds of a former almshouse, or poorhouse):

The Geffrye is the only museum in the United Kingdom dedicated to the history of the domestic interiors of the urban middle class. . . . [I]t took an excellent collection of buildings—home for many people over the generations—and preserved not only the structures themselves but the fleeting and changing sense of home and its traditions over the years.

Citation:  Janie-Rice, we love the sense of wonder with which you approach this almshouse-turned-museum. It reminds us of Alice’s excitement when showing her black kitten, Kitty, the “little PEEP of the passage in Looking-glass House”:

Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty.

A Looking-glass House, an almshouse, a museum of houses…whatever floats your (house)boat and spurs your creativity, we heartily approve.

3) JOSH, blogger at Real Life English

For his post: How Your Personality Changes When You Speak in a Foreign Language
Posted on: 16 April 2012
Snippet:

…what happens when you speak a foreign language using the rhythm from your native language? The effect is that even if everything else is perfect, the listener might not understand everything you say because it still seems like you’re speaking a foreign language. The following video demonstrates this concept quite well. In it there are a group of Italians singing in what seems to be English, but if you listen carefully you will realize that they are speaking gibberish. . . .

Citation: Josh, we love the idea of developing another personality when living in another culture. Far too many of us internationals cling to the naive belief that we can go around the world just being ourselves. As you point out, the only way to be yourself is to adopt the rhythms of the other language/culture, which paradoxically entails acting like someone else. And here is where Alice comes in: she tries to use reasoning suited to the above-ground world, only to find that no one understands her, and some even feel quite offended by what she says. (Mind you, it was a tad culturally insensitive of her to mention her cat, Dinah, in front of Mouse, and to go on about Dinah’s hunting skills to the creatures in the Caucus Race.) Gradually it dawns on her that she must adopt Wonderland’s logic of nonsense, even if that means risking becoming someone she doesn’t recognize:

But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!

International creatives, if you take nothing else from this citation please remember that having an identity crisis is a positive sign. At some point, you will find it an asset to have multiple personalities to draw on.

4) DAWN RUTHERFORD MARCHANT, American expat in London and Quora community member

For her post: US Expat Describes The Best And Worst Things About England (a re-publication of her answer to a Quora question: What is it like to move to England from the United States?)
Posted on: 2 November 2013
Snippet:

Houses are very expensive and you will live in a house half the size you’d expect in the US, often attached to your neighbour and with a one car garage (if you are lucky). There are no basements, so you feel cramped and everything is cluttered—I’ve never seen a walk-in closet to date. You will cram everything into a ‘wardrobe’ the size of your coat closet.

Citation: Dawn, at this point in your narrative, we began to picture you as Alice when, after drinking an unmarked bottle of liquid, grows into a giant with her arms and legs shooting out the windows and doors of the White Rabbit’s house. Perhaps the only consolation is that with one of your arms out the window, you should find it easier to hang the laundry out to dry (another of the bugbears you mention about life in the UK). Further to which, we wouldn’t advise “giving up your arm” for an American washer and dryer. That said, you do have a point about the ironing. It can’t be easy bending an elbow under such conditions! In any event, thank you for painting such a vivid portrait of life in the UK, cramps and all.

4) AISHA ASHRAF, Irish expat in Canada, freelance writer and blogger at Expatlog

For her post: My mother was a nun
Posted on: 7 March 2013
Snippet (pertaining to the times she and her sisters would accompany their mother on visits to her former convent):

Looking back, I see that we were also entering a different culture, an insulated bubble within the larger alien culture of middle England. Like Inception—a dream within a dream. It was all very different from the Irish farm, but it felt like being part of a family, something I came to idealise later on when mine turned out to be so dysfunctional.

Citation: Aisha, leave it to you to bring us to even greater depths by suggesting that expats can find alien worlds within alien worlds, wonderlands within wonderlands, ad infinitum, rather like the mirror reflecting the mirror in Velázquez’s baroque masterpiece, Las Meninas. What’s more, you’ve suggested that a person can come to appreciate the relationships formed within these wonderlands even more than their original relationships with family. If that isn’t going through the looking glass, we’re not sure what is! Thanks for such a cosmic post, from which we’re still reeling (in a good way, of course!).

*  *  *

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 these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, another installment on blogging from JACK THE HACK.

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the October 2013 Alices go to … these 4 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

If you are a subscriber to our weekly newsletter, Displaced Dispatch, you’re already in the know. But if you’re not (and why aren’t you? off with your head!), listen up. Every week, when that esteemed publication comes out, we present an “Alice Award” to a writer or other kind of creative person who we think has 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 to their advantage, as a spur to greater creative heights.

Today’s post honors October’s four Alice recipients.

Starting with the most recent, and this time with annotations, they are (drumroll…):

1) CATHY TSANG-FEIGN, American psychologist in Hong Kong, specializing in expat psychology and adjustment issues

For her book: Keep Your Life, Family and Career Intact While Living Abroad
Published: September 2013
Snippet:
Cathy_Feign_cover

[Benjamin is a marketing buyer who was transferred to Hong Kong on a two-year contract. Having been through the phase of “elation,” he now finds himself in phase of “resistance,” with “transformation” and “integration” yet to come.]

Benjamin is getting annoyed by the frantic pace of life in Hong Kong, the indirectness of Chinese people in business, the crowds and difficulties in being understood. He is frustrated at the narrow choice of English-language entertainment on television or in cinemas and theaters. He finds himself missing his old friends, favorite foods, and the ways of doing things back home. Many foreigners in this [resistance] stage tend to associate only with others from their own country. They constantly compare everything to “back in England” (or New York or Frankfurt). Such people remain separate from the local community and establish their own secluded, privileged society. Many expatriates remain in this stage until the day they move back home.

Citation: Dr. Tsang-Feign, we wonder if in addition to Benjamin (who is presumably fictional) you might consider treating Alice in Wonderland as a textbook example of the four phases of acculturation? As you may recall from your own reading of Lewis Carroll’s story, Alice’s elation at falling down the rabbit-hole is rapidly followed by a period of resistance to the wonders found beneath. Down, down, down—Alice’s fall eventually culminates in unlocking a door to a passage through which yields the sight of the most fabulous garden. And her first taste of Wonderland is equally delightful: a drink that has “a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast.” However, it is not long before Alice begins to resist the local community:

“It was much pleasanter at home,” thought poor Alice, “when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole—and yet—and yet—it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life!”

Still, and as the latter statement attests, even at the height of her resistance Alice shows some potential for “transformation.” And though she never quite achieves “integration” before leaving Wonderland—she always feels a bit what we like to call displaced—her sister predicts that she will forever cherish the memories of her adventures. We can only speculate, not being psychologists ourselves, that this progress is owed to her not having had the opportunity to isolate herself with other Alices, to her having had a solo, and singular, set of experiences. Does that seem a fair assessment?

2) ANONYMOUS BLOGGER at Midwest to Midlands, who describes herself as “an American from the Midwest married to a Brit living in the English Midlands”

For her post: “First a Revisit in England”
Posted on: 23 September 2013
Snippet:

… it has taken me a while to get back on track since returning to England from out visit in the States. What do you do when you need to get yourself in gear? This time for me, some action was needed, or rather lack of action and enjoying the English countryside.

Citation:  M-to-M, we love the idea of getting over the often-rough transitions from homeland to adopted land by doing nothing and simply immersing yourself in your surroundings—we only hope you realize how lucky you are to have landed in the Cotswolds, which has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. (If you lived in, say, smog-covered Shanghai, this technique would have required more imagination.) In fact, your photographic record of your desultory wanderings—first stop, a magnificent house or two made of Cotswold stone; next stop, a tea room; next, a window-box; next, a shop; next, a tree covered in golden leaves; next, an 18th-century house with an American letterbox—put us in mind of this charming passage from Lewis Carroll’s classic:

“I should see the garden far better,” said Alice to herself, “if I could get to the top of that hill: and here’s a path that leads straight to it—at least, no, it doesn’t do that—” (after going a few yards along the path, and turning several sharp corners), “but I suppose it will at last. But how curiously it twists! It’s more like a corkscrew than a path! Well, THIS turn goes to the hill, I suppose—no, it doesn’t! This goes straight back to the house! Well then, I’ll try it the other way.”

3) MANAL AHMAD KHAN: Journalist, poet, world traveler, and blogger at Windswept Words

For her post: “Thoughts on Leaving Pakistan” (her first post in a year-and-a-half, since she and her husband moved back to Pakistan from the United States, and just before they left for a new adventure in Spain)
Posted on: 4 October 2013
Snippet:

It was a parallel universe, where we all lived free, modern lives, like citizens of a free, modern country, utterly disconnected from the “other” Pakistan, the bigger Pakistan, and for all intents and purposes, the “real” Pakistan. Yet perhaps it was our only survival, the only way to keep sane and creative and happy for those of us who chose to live in our native country.

Citation: Manal, your deep love for your native land shines through your many beautiful photos and stories—as does your frustration about its “overwhelming religiosity and self-righteousness.” We are glad that, unlike Alice, you were able to get out of “that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains” from time to time. And a very pleasant little Wonderland it sounds, that part of Lahore where people meet up in New York-style cafés for mocha cappuccinos, and have children who dress up for Halloween and parties where alcohol flows freely. By the same token, we can appreciate how happy you were to leave this “schizophrenic” life for Madrid. Readers, we will hear about Manal’s latest adventures this month as she has agreed to be one of November’s featured authors!

4) KAY XANDER MELLISH, Wisconsin-born journalist and now an expat entrepreneur in Copenhagen and blogger at How to live in Denmark: An irreverent guide

For her post: Danes and Privacy—Why public nudity is OK and public ambition is not
Posted on: 24 August 2013
Snippet:

Shortly before I arrived in Denmark in 2000, one of the famous guards outside the queen’s palace at Amalieborg was fired.

… She was the first woman to guard the Royal Palace at Amalieborg. … Unfortunately, this young lady also had a part-time job. She was a prostitute. She would guard the palace by day and run her business out of the royal barracks in the evening.

… But she was NOT fired because she was a prostitute. She was fired because she’d been ordered by her commander to stop moonlighting after her side-job was first discovered, and she did not stop. … She was fired for not following orders.

Citation:  Kay, we don’t know which experience is stranger: Alice’s discovery that the Queen of Hearts has cards for guards, or yours that Margrethe II had a prostitute for a guard. But leaving that matter aside, what’s even stranger in both cases is that the rules by which a guard’s behavior is judged are far from transparent, even after an explanation is offered. The Danes you queried about the incident told you that as far as they were concerned, even a Queen’s guard can do what she wants in her private time; but insubordination is unacceptable: off with her job! Likewise, when Alice asks a couple of the Card Guards why they are painting the roses, she gets this response:

Five and Seven said nothing, but looked at Two. Two began in a low voice, “Why the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a RED rose-tree, and we put a white one in by mistake; and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we’re doing our best, afore she comes.”

We expect you can empathize!

*  *  *

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 these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, another installment on blogging from JACK THE HACK.

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the September 2013 Alices go to … these 4 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

If you are a subscriber to our weekly newsletter, Displaced Dispatch, you’re already in the know. But if you’re not (and why aren’t you? off with your head!), listen up. Every week, when that esteemed publication comes out, we present an “Alice Award” to a writer or other kind of creative person who we think has a special handle on the curious and unreal, who knows what it means to be truly displaced as a global resident or voyager. Not only that, but this person tries to use this state of befuddlement to their advantage, as a spur to greater creative heights.

Today’s post honors September’s four Alice recipients.

Starting with the most recent, and this time with annotations, they are (drumroll…):

1) SHERRY OTT, travel photographer and blogger

Source: Photographing Vietnam’s Rainy Season,” on Everything Everywhere
Posted on: 20 September 2013
Snippet:

From a cultural experience and photography standpoint, inclement weather seasons are a wonderful opportunity to see how the locals really live in situations that we would deem less desirable. You get a true feel for the country and local culture and traditions through the “tough” times. On top of it you get introduced to a number of new products that are used in that inclement weather season that you probably never even dreamed of…

Citation: Sherry, we have to stop you there. Right now we are picturing Alice sloshing through her own tears:

As she said these words her foot slipped, and in another moment, splash! she was up to her chin in salt water. Her first idea was that she had somehow fallen into the sea, “and in that case I can go back by railway,” she said to herself.

But what interests us about you, Sherry—what’s curiouser and curiouser, as Alice might put it—is that, unlike her, you were not having a pool-of-tears moment. As you set foot in Saigon at the height of the monsoon season, your first thought was, my, how lucky I am to see “the skies open up and pour down their wrath on city streets.” And you know what, Sherry? We agree with you. Unlike Alice, who had no means of transport except possibly the train, you had your own motorbike. Also unlike her, you were privy to some unusual sights: double-headed ponchos and ponchos with headlight windows! Poor Alice, on the other hand, when she heard something splashing about in a pool a little ways off, thought she might encounter a walrus or hippopotamus, only to find … a mouse.

2) ALYSSA JAMES Canadian blogger, journalist, traveler

Source: How fast can you slow travel?” on Matador Network
Posted on: 13 September 2013
Snippet:

Because of regulations on how long a truck driver is allowed to be on the road in a day, I was able to explore the city [of Chicago] for exactly 1 hour and 19 minutes.

In those 79 minutes, I was still able to slow travel. I visited the sculpture and centerpiece of Millennium Park known as the Bean (actually called Cloud Gate) and went to the Art Institute. More importantly, I talked with people who lived there. I received interesting insights about the place I wouldn’t have gathered otherwise, like where to get the most delicious Chicago-style pizza ever (Giordano’s deep-dish, double-crusted and stuffed deliciousness).

Citation: Alyssa, we appreciate that you were able to plumb the depths of the Windy City, the largest city in the Midwest, America’s third largest, in just over an hour (hey, that’s no mean feat given how deep the pizza is!). And all this without the benefit of the Queen’s insights in Through the Looking Glass:

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Our only question is, had you followed the Queen’s advice and run twice as fast, do you think you might have at least sampled the stuffed pizza? And of course, had you run twice as fast, you could have sampled it guilt-free! That’s a thought. Next time, perhaps?

3)  ANNE COPELAND, founder and Executive Director of The Interchange Institute

Source: “Tiger Moms, Bébés, and Warm Eskimos” on FIGT blog
Posted on: 1 September 2013
Snippet:

[A]s an interculturalist, I’m at once fascinated, excited … and disappointed by these accounts of parenting in other cultures…. In each case, the message is roughly, “Here’s a new and superior way to raise your children; the result is better than what you’re doing; try it, you’ll like it.” But nowhere do they describe the deep values underlying the parenting choices, the ultimate goals for the kind of adult parents are trying to raise, or the cultural milieu into which the children will be expected to grow.

Citation: Anne, we feel certain that Alice could relate to your woes. She was, after all, rather discombobulated by what she saw of the Duchess’s parenting style. To quote from her account:

While the Duchess sang the second verse of the song, she kept tossing the baby violently up and down, and the poor little thing howled so, that Alice could hardly hear the words:—
“I speak severely to my boy,
I beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when he pleases!”

Just imagine, a child that enjoys unlimited amounts of pepper thanks to harsh parenting. It totally makes sense in the Wonderland context. Except…achoo! or should we say: hach-chu (Bengali), hāt-chī (Cantonese), atsjú (Hungarian), aatsjoo (Norwegian), or atchoum (French)? In any case, some sort of onomatopoeia must be required. Parenting may vary from place to place, but not sneezing! But wait, the Japanese say hakushon. Are they trying to stifle the sneeze while frantically searching for a face mask? (Anne, please tell us: will intercultural wonders ever cease?)

4)  NIKKI HODGSON, blogger & traveler

Source: “What is lost (and gained) when the traveler settles down” on Matador Network
Posted on: 16 August 2013
Snippet:

“…Every day that passes separates me from the places I used to belong to, the places I learned to belong to. As I dig my roots deeper into the rocky Colorado soil, I must relinquish my grasp of the banks of the Neckar where I first studied abroad, the mountains of Grenoble that stood guard over me as I fell apart, the dusty hills of Bethlehem where I put myself back together.

And I know that I will never belong to these places the way I once did.”

Citation: Nikki, you put us in mind of Alice’s sister, who like you after your travels, was old and wise enough to know that Wonderland wouldn’t, couldn’t last. Here is the relevant passage:

So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality—the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds…

Crazy Wonderland or dull reality? Or, in your case: dusty hills or rocky soil? That is THE expat question… Not much of a choice, is it?

*  *  *

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 these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for our next post!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the August 2013 Alices go to … these 3 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

As subscribers to our weekly newsletter know, our Displaced Dispatch presents a weekly “Alice Award” to a writer or other kind of creative person who we think has a special handle on the curious and unreal aspects of the displaced life of global residency and travel. Not only that, but this person likes to use their befuddlement as a spur to creativity.

Today’s post honors August’s three Alice recipients. Beginning with the most recent, they are (drumroll…):

1) CALLISTA FOX, TCK blogger and author of the serial novel Suite Dubai

Source: “Friday Night Lights vs. The Eurotrash Girl on CallistaFox.com
Posted on: 26 June 2013
Snippet:

Our boarding school offered cheer leading as an afternoon activity… I signed up because it sounded better than typing or drafting and my parents wouldn’t pay for dressage. We knew only a handful of cheers. None of us could name a proper jump, let alone do one. We wore white tennis skirts and blue sweatshirts and any color of hightop Reebok we owned. When we ran out onto the field to do our pathetic cartwheels the audience was quiet, a few laughed. True, the grass was wet and my roommate Samantha slipped and skidded on her chin. We didn’t have our routine perfected.

Citation: Who stole the tarts, Callista? Who stole the tarts? Your account of your bout with cheer leading at a boarding school in Austria suggests that you were in a classic Alice-in-Wonderland situation, perhaps without even realizing it. Because no young American woman in her right mind would cheer an Austrian team playing Australia in American-style football on a field marked for soccer, unless they’d stepped through the looking glass. Indeed, your description is missing some crucial details, for instance:

  1. Were the teams using a koala bear as the ball? Koalas being to Austria what flamingos are to England—namely, more New World than Old. (Notably, koalas like to eat the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, which doesn’t exactly thrive in The Land of Long-needled Pines.)
  2. Did anyone propose a trial for all of those unruly fans in the half-filled stands who were throwing things at you and the other cheerleaders?

All of which brings us back to our original question: was it an Aussie or an Ausie, the Knave who stole the tarts? That’s what we (and presumably your all-American Texan husband) would most like to know.

Still, we did find amusing the tales of ThirdCultureKid-land that you told to your better half. Clearly your quintessentially TCK life had its moments, including the time you watched a guy eat glass in a bar in Nicosia, Cyprus, when you were only 14.

Is it any wonder that when your parents moved you back to Norman, Oklahoma, when you were 20, you felt exactly like Alice, who told her sister: “Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” (You did make a lot of it up, right?)

2) CHRIS ALDEN, British expat; author and journalist

For his book: “101 Reasons to Live Abroad…and 100 Reasons Not To”
Published: March 2013
From the book description:

Do you dream of living abroad? If so, you’re in good company. Tens of thousands of people every year emigrate from the UK—leaving behind the security of work, family and friends for the promise of better weather (hopefully), better prospects (sometimes) and a carefree existence (keep dreaming).

So is now the time to leave Britain and start life as an expat? Or have you already started planning the big move overseas?

101 Reasons to Live Abroad … & 100 Reasons Not To helps you discover if living abroad is right for you. It’s an uplifting guide to the positive sides of life as an expatriate—and a reality check about the challenges that relocation brings.

Citation: Chris, we understand that you’re also the author of 250 Things to Do in Cyprus on a Sunny Day, so would encourage you at some point to compare notes with your fellow Alice awardee, Callista Fox. In the post cited above, Callista reports that, when attending boarding school in Nicosia, she and her friends particularly enjoyed hanging out in a bar drinking Carlsberg with UN soldiers (they were there to keep the peace between Cypriots and Turks). We’re genuinely curious: does this particular activity rank in your Top 250? Or perhaps you think it’s better left for a rainy day? (Actually, does Cyprus even have rainy days? Oh, that’s right: it’s only semi-arid.)

Anyway, we’re awarding you an Alice because, like Lewis Carroll’s little heroine, you appear to appreciate both the positive and negative aspects of turning one’s life upside down, with the balance tipped every so slightly towards the positive. We believe Alice would be impressed that you offer a final, 101st reason to live abroad for those who, having been offered as many as a hundred reasons both for and against, still find themselves dithering. After all, when Alice’s sister urges her to run inside to get her tea, she obliges her “thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.”

3) LINDA JANSSEN, writer, speaker, consultant, global adventurer and cultural enthusiast

For her book: “The Emotionally Resilient Expat”
Published: 22 June 2013
From the book description:

Linda A. Janssen combines candid personal stories from experienced expats and cross-culturals, with a wealth of practical tools, techniques and best practices from emotional, social and cultural intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness, stress management, self-care and related areas.”

Citation: Linda, as you know, we’ve been an avid follower of yours on Adventures in Expatland, which has helped to stimulate many of our own “through the looking glass” insights. And now we see you’ve contributed a tome to the discourse on what to do when you fall through the rabbit hole and feel culturally discombobulated. According to your book, which is sprinkled with expat stories and anecdotes, the answer lies in calling on (or developing) reserves of emotional resilience—a quality Alice had in spades, so to speak. Upon hearing of the Queen of Heart’s intention to have her decapitated, she retorted thus:

You’re nothing but a pack of cards!

At which point

the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.

Now if that isn’t resilience, what is?

From now on, we look forward to reading about your Adventures in Repatland, which as we noticed from your last post, are only just beginning:

At long last I’m beginning to surface, coming up for air in a new stage in a new place in a country and culture which seem familiar yet I don’t always recognize.

Hey, if it helps to know, we’ve got your back on this one!

* * *

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 these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for our next post!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the July 2013 Alices go to … these 4 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

As subscribers to our weekly newsletter know, each week our Displaced Dispatch presents an “Alice Award” to a writer who we think has a special handle on the curious and unreal aspects of the displaced life of global residency and travel. Not only that, but this person likes to use their befuddlement as a spur to creativity.

Today’s post honors July’s four Alice recipients, beginning with the most recent and this time including citations.

So, without further ado: The July 2013 Alices go to (drumroll…):

1) HELENA HALME, author and Finnish expat in London

For her latest novel: The Red King of Helsinki
Published: March 2013
From the book description:

Nordic Noir meets Cold War Espionage.

Pia’s ambitions to win a gymnastics competition between her Helsinki college and a school from Moscow trigger a set of dangerous events when her best friend disappears and a violent KGB spy, The Red King of Helsinki, threatens her. Will a friendly British ex-navy officer, Iain, be able to save Pia before its too late?

This fast-moving novel set in Finland has everything—a young, feisty protagonist, Nordic Noir and old-fashioned chivalry.

Citation: Helena, how could we not award you an Alice once we heard you’d written a story revolving around a Red King? While we do not know whether you purposely modeled your Red King of Helsinki on the Red King of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, it almost doesn’t matter. The point is, you present us with a classic through-the-looking-glass situation, having set the action during the Cold War and made your Red King into a Soviet spy. Will Pia/Alice checkmate the Red King with the help of that kindly British military gentleman? Or will she go out—bang—like a candle? No need for Tweedledum/dee to explicate. What’s more, you are the perfect person to take us on this particular fictional journey. With your thick blonde locks and acute appreciation for the curious and unreal in your adopted country, it’s not much of a stretch to dub you the Finnish Alice!

2) TRACEY CROKE, Manchester-born, Australia-based freelance journalist and blogger

Source: “A Pom versus the pests” in Telegraph‘s Expat Life
Posted on: 12 June 2013
Snippet:

Small self-amputating lizards dart out of my fruit bowl. Ants march in to weightlift a few missed crumbs off my floor. Possums push their cute limits with roof-dancing antics.

While the elusive ghost bug remains a mystery, large “harmless” spiders, innocent-sounding paper wasps and alien insects get the boot or get spiked by my neighbour’s stilettoes.

It’s just a few of the ways to deal with uninvited houseguests in the subtropics.

Citation: Tracey, your description of the critters of Aussie-land is almost as fascinating as Alice’s account of Wonderland’s inhabitants. In fact, in many ways it sounds as though you have it worse than Alice, who at least didn’t have lizards and hairy hunstman spiders to contend with, though she did have the Caterpillar. Still, on the plus side, you’re lucky that these various creatures do not interact, apart from the Hunstman spiders, that is, who like to eat cockroaches and geckos. Poor Alice, in watching a large plate come out of the door of the Duchess’s house and graze the nose of her footman, couldn’t help but mutter to herself: “It’s really dreadful, the way all the creatures argue. It’s enough to drive one crazy!”

3) STEPHEN CLARKE, an Englishman who grew up in Bournemouth and now lives in Paris; author and Telegraph Expat blogger

Source: “If you listen carefully, you can hear French cheese breathing,” in his Telegraph Expat blog
Posted on: 6 July 2013
Snippet:

A friend sent me the link to a BBC report about American food officials declaring French cheese “filthy” and inedible. The funniest thing was that it was Mimolette, a hard Edam-like cheese that even I as a Brit find a bit bland. It’s usually sold in small semi-circular slices with a curve of rind, or the kind of rectangular rindless blocks that you would think the Americans might enjoy. It’s the last cheese you would expect to get an import ban.

Citation: Stephen, we agree with you that anything bland does not deserve an import ban. For Alice, the most objectionable food in Wonderland was the Duchess’s soup, which had so much pepper that she, the Duchess, and the Duchess’s baby couldn’t stop sneezing. That would hardly do for a roomful of customs officials! Also, since you did such a good job in writing about cheese, we hope you will write about mushrooms next—a food close to Alice’s heart, and also, we believe, very important to the French. Only, do they have any varieties that can alter one’s size? (As long as they don’t alter speed, Americans may not object…)

4) TORRE DE ROCHE, Australian-American TCK and author

Source: “Blogger to Watch: Torre de Roche talks about her journey to big publishing deal”: interview by Jade Craven on ProBlogger.net
Posted on: 22 June 2013
Snippet:

Art is uncertain. Sometimes, in order to feel the delicious comfort of certainty, you might try to make art while grasping onto some idea or technique that seems safe. If you do that, your writing will come out stiff and contrived because you’re not creating, you’re imitating.

Loosen your grip. Let go of control. Embrace the freefalling sensation of having no idea where you’re going with something.

Good art comes from risk, experimentation, and play.

Citation: Torre, we love the way you took your own advice and embraced the free-falling sensation of having no idea where you were going when you fell for a handsome Argentinean man with a humble sailboat and agreed to join him in pursuing the dream of setting off to explore the world, this despite your morbid fear of water. You’ve had a series of adventures to rival Alice’s. Also like her, you’ve lived to tell the story for subsequent generations of wannabe free-falling adventurers, via both your highly successful blog, which you aptly refer to as a “literary potluck party, Mad Hatter style,” and now memoir, Love with a Chance of Drowning. Kudos!

* * *

So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, and do you have any posts you’d like to see among August’s Alice Awards? We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the June 2013 Alices go to… these 5 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

As subscribers to our weekly newsletter know, each week our Displaced Dispatch presents an “Alice Award” to a writer who we think has a special handle on the curious and unreal aspects of the displaced life of global residency and travel. Not only that, but this person has used their befuddlement as a spur to their own (or others’) creativity.

Today’s post honors June’s five Alice recipients, beginning with the most recent and this time including citations.

So, without further ado: The June 2013 Alices go to (drumroll…):

1) LILLIAN AFRICANO, president of the Society of American Travel Writers

Source:How to use words to cinematic effect in your travel writing.” in Matador Network
Posted on: 21 June 2013
Snippet:

Once a satisfying story has been told, it needs an ending, ideally, one that circles around to the beginning and gracefully achieves a satisfying sense of closure. If a good travel story is like a cinema of the mind, then whoever heard of a movie that had no ending?

Citation: Lillian, your advocacy of the cinematic style puts us in mind of Alice, who, before plunging into her adventures, expresses a similar thought:

…once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or
conversation?”

And although Alice’s creator, Lewis Carroll, died around the time the first motion picture camera was invented, he clearly believed in telling stories in clear, vivid word pictures. What’s more, the story of Alice’s wonderland adventures circles round to where it began, with Alice waking up on the lap of her sister, who is brushing stray leaves from her face. Like many of us who return from a long international journey, Alice can’t quite believe that she actually underwent such a metamorphosis. Still, she manages to persuade her sister, who after sending Alice to get her tea, dozes off while watching the sun set half-believing herself to be in Wonderland. (Hmmm…if you can persuade the kind of person who doesn’t read picture books, that’s some pretty good storytelling!)

2) ACe Callwood & the other creators of Coffitivity

Source: “How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity“— a report on Coffitivity by Anahad O’Connor in the New York Times
Posted on: 21 June 2013
Snippet: As the Times article explains, Coffitivity plays an ambient coffee shop soundtrack that, according to researchers, helps people concentrate. Co-founder ACe Callwood says that, although the site attracted only just over a hundred page views when it first started on March 4th, since then traffic has “exploded”:

Seoul, Korea, is our top user city. New York City is second, followed by London, L.A. and Chicago.

Citation: ACe, we understand that you and your partners are now developing new coffee shop soundtracks tailored to specific countries. For the sake of us creative internationals (see #4, Mike Sowden, below), we wonder if you’d also consider a “Lewis Carroll” track since many of us in that category are trying to account for topsy-turvy ideas of life we’ve obtained from living overseas. We are aware it will take some research to find the right sounds, but our hunch is that some mix of rustling grass, rippling waters, tinkling sheep-bells, a bit of Victorian singing, and Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood chatter will do the trick.

3) ANNABEL KANTARIA, Telegraph Expat blogger

Source: “Do you suffer from fake accent syndrome?” in Telegraph Expat blog
Posted on: 6 June 2013
Snippet:

Just like the “transatlantic twang” of those who divide their time between the UK and US, the generic global accent of the UAE takes a little from English, Arabic, Hindi and Tagalog, and spits out some sort of accent and vocabulary that we all hope everyone will be able to understand.

Citation: Hmmm… Annabel, especially given those blonde locks of yours, are you sure you’re not Alice reincarnated? Because this is the SECOND time we’ve awarded you an Alice. Either you know the works of Lewis Carroll very well and/or life in the Emirates has given you a special grasp on his canon of works. Last time you received an Alice, it was for a post that told us about the importance of playing by the rules, which reminded us of Alice’s croquet match under the Queen of Hearts’s stern command. This time, you talk about the odd, fake-sounding accents people pick up in foreign spots—which reminds us of poor Alice’s initial meeting with Mouse:

“Perhaps it doesn’t understand English,” thought Alice; “I daresay it’s a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror.” … So she began again: “Ou est ma chatte?: which was the first sentence in her French lesson-book. The Mouse gave a sudden leap out of the water, and seemed to quiver all over with fright. “Oh, I beg your pardon!” cried Alice hastily, afraid that she had hurt the poor animal’s feelings. “I quite forgot you didn’t like cats.”

Stuff and nonsense, to be sure!

4) MIKE SOWDEN, travel writer

Source: “Why I Blog (On A Napkin)” in Fevered Mutterings—Misadventures in Travel & Storytelling blog
Posted on: 26 May, 2013
Snippet: Notably, Sowden should be a consultant for Coffitivity’s “international creative” app (see #2 above). He reports that he is writing this post

…next to a sunlit window in a Costa coffee house in Birmingham… A regular Chai latte is to the right of my laptop, and I’m fascinated by the lazy snow of cinnamon drifting to the bottom of the glass.

But the passages we really love refer to his napkin diagram:

  • “[Potential blog] [s]ponsors hover in the middle reaches of napkin-space.”
  • “Let’s soar into the upper napkinsphere. … It’s the ideal audience of your blog: anyone with a brain and a pulse.”
  • “This is what the fold in the napkin is all about, just under that line/curve. It’s a mountain you have to climb. A mountain made of enormous amounts of hard work, business planning, Art, applied psychology, smart, non-spammy marketing and all sorts of heart-on-sleeve public-facing transparency and vulnerability. It’s a process of learning how to make something those people will genuinely find meaningful. In business, this is the hardest thing in the world. It’s a mountain littered with the remains of failed expeditions, and it’ll probably end up littered with some of your own.”

Citation: Wow, Mike, you are certainly drinking the coffee if you can see a mountain in the folds of a Costa napkin, and use that image to tell a story about the thru-the-looking-glass challenges most bloggers face. Say, no wonder they pay you (or should be paying you) the big bucks for travel writing! I think other expat and travel bloggers will agree with us that it’s a fantasy feat worthy of Carroll.

5) PATRICIA WINTON, crime writer, food guru and American expat in Rome

Source: “The Tiramisù Is Out of This World” in Italian Intrigues blog
Posted on: 23 May 2013
Snippet: In this post, Winton reports that Chef Davide Scabin, whose restaurant (near Turin) ranks as one of the world’s 50 best, was chosen to prepare a new menu of Italian foods for the astronauts who took off in the European supply spacecraft Albert Einstein ATV [automated transfer vehicle], on June 5th (note: it successfully docked with the International Space Station on June 15th):

Each meal must also have a 36-month shelf life and be prepared without salt. Against this rigorous backdrop, Chef Scabin discovered another challenge. “The olfactory system doesn’t function at 100 percent in space. The astronauts eat with the sensation of having a cold,” he said…

Thanks to Chef Scabin’s efforts, the crew—who include one Italian, Luca Parmitano—are now feasting not on food from NASA or Roskosmoson (its Russian counterpart), but on lasagna, risotto, caponata, eggplant Parmesan, and for dessert—tiramisù.
Citation: To be honest, we weren’t sure whether to award the Alice to Chef Scabin, for spending two years thinking about how to translate Italian food for outer space without turning it into a Mad Hatter’s tea party; Luca Parmitano, for blogging(!) about his “out of this displaced world” experience from the spacecraft; or to Patricia Winton, for making this strange tale known to the expat and travel community. But we decided to go with Winton. Given her penchant for mystery and deceit, could it even be that she fabricated this story just because she fancied a world where astronauts could feast on tiramisù instead of the freeze-dried ice cream served by NASA on the Apollo missions? Stranger things have happened! 🙂

* * *

So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, and do you have any posts you’d like to see among July’s Alice Awards? We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

Speaking of creative chefs, STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, by Global Food Gossip Joanna Masters-Maggs.

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

And the April 2013 Alices go to … these 5 international creatives

 © Iamezan | Dreamstime.com Used under license

© Iamezan | Dreamstime.com
Used under license

As subscribers to our weekly newsletter, The Displaced Dispatch, may have noticed, we are now presenting our “Alice Awards” in that esteemed publication. Each week, we give an “Alice” to someone who has a special handle on the the curious and unreal aspects of the displaced life of global residency and travel. Not only that, but they have used their befuddlement as a spur to creativity of all kinds.

Today’s post honors our first five Alice recipients, beginning with the most recent and this time including citations.

So, without further ado: The April 2013 Alices went to …

1) MICHELLE GARRETT, expat blogger

Source:Has Your Expat Life Inspired You To Write A Book?” in Expat Focus (e-zine for anyone moving or living abroad)
Posted on: 19 April 2013
Snippet:

By definition is an “expat novel” about an expat? Or does it need to be more than that—does an expat novel need to be about an expat experiencing expat life? You know, the culture shock, the language differences, the homesickness …

I have always written and always wanted to be a Writer so for me the motivation to write a novel was more about “you want to write? Start by writing what you know’” rather than, “I’m an expat with adventures—I think I’ll write about them!”

Citation: Should we expats write books about the wonderlands we’ve experienced on our travels, or should we write because we enjoy writing (and just so happen to live abroad)? Michelle, you’re sounding a little Mad Hatterish by posing this riddle with no answer, and we feel duty bound to point out that Alice herself felt that her adventures could be worth writing about:

When I used to read fairy-tales, I fancied that kind of thing never happened, and now here I am in the middle of one! There ought to be a book written about me, that there ought!

But listen, if our enjoyment of your blog, The American Resident, is any indication, we’re going to love the novel you’re writing about an expat woman but that isn’t an expat novel. We also look forward to your book of tips for expats with long and sad tales, like the Mouse’s.

2) JUDY LEE DUNN, award-winning blogger on blogging and former humanitarian aid worker

Source:Judy Lee Dunn on words, maps, and inspiration“—an interview with Judy conducted by author Lisa Ahn (notably, Lisa’s own favorite words are “once upon a time”!).
Posted on: 17 April 2013
Snippet:

For as long as I can remember, I have been enchanted by the power of words to transport readers to a world they don’t yet know.

And when I was a child, maps were a metaphor for a world I had not yet seen …

Whenever my two passions intersected, I was truly inspired. As manager of Writing Resources for World Vision, words and maps perfectly converged to send me to West Africa as part of a documentary team to tell the stories of projects helping third world families become self-sufficient. …

Now, I’ve finally reached the point where I am putting together the pieces of my life, word by word, shining a light on one of the recurring themes of my life. Finding just the right words to express a life map of sorts: to understand where I started and where I am going.

Citation: Judy, we feel certain you would approve of our fondness for Lewis Carroll, believing as you do in the power of words to transport us to other worlds (and also having worked as a first-grade teacher!). We’re with you on the map thing, too, as evidenced by our “Here be dragons” banner. And we love the idea of someone who has worked abroad, as you have (in West Africa), writing a “life map.” May we borrow this term?

3) ANN PATCHETT, best-selling American author

Source:What now? Advice on Writing and Life from Ann Patchett“—a post by Maria Popova on her Brain Pickings blog, containing extracts from Patchett’s 2006 commencement address at Sarah Lawrence, which has been published as a book, What Now?
Snippet:

Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you to another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours—long hallways and unforeseen stairwells—eventually puts you in the place you are now. … But when you look ahead there isn’t a bread crumb in sight—there are just a few shrubs, a bunch of trees, a handful of skittish woodland creatures.

Citation: Ann, we know you intended your words for the ears of graduates from your alma mater, but they could easily apply to us displaced types, who spend a good deal of our time feeling lost and clueless. You go on to say: “Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.” What a marvelous assertion! Far more reassuring than the series of unhelpful responses Alice elicits from the Cheshire Cat after asking him: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” (What’s more, you’ve followed your own advice, booking a trip to the Amazon as soon as you decided to set your sixth novel there.)

4) LAINIE LIBERTI, world traveler and blogger

Source:Reentry Observations—Washington DC,” an entry on her blog, Raising Milo on the Road of Life—a single mom and son’s nomadic adventures as they travel around the world together.
Posted on: 29 March 2013
Snippet:

I imagined this country’s politicians, their assistants, their staff, all rushing away from the Capital, eager to go somewhere else. I imagined this was the group of stressed people who were running the United States of America. … I clearly have a different feeling about the United States now. I feel as if I’m on foreign soil. I don’t perceive the energy as welcoming.

Citation: Lainie, your description of Washington VIPs dashing about reminds us of Alice’s encounters with the White Rabbit. And we join you in wondering: don’t they realize that someday their actions will seems as trivial as some might perceive the ancient cultures of Peru? (Certainly puts it in perspective!)

5) LAURA J. STEPHENS, psychotherapist and author

Source: “Overcoming Isolation,” an entry on her author blog (she is the author of An Inconvenient Posting: an expat wife’s memoir of lost identity).
Posted on: 9 March 2013
Snippet:

For me, there was nothing in my experience quite so isolating as arriving in an unfamiliar country and trying to orientate myself, whilst experiencing the losses of “home” and all the while thinking I should be grateful for my new existence.

Citation: Laura, it’s great to know that someone out there understands the tendency for us expat Alices to declare “I am so very tired of being all alone here!” and then to suffer “pool of tears” moments… Not only that, but you provide practical tips to keep from drowning. What more can we ask?

* * *

So, readers, do you have a favorite from the above, and do you have any posts you’d like to see among May’s Alice Awards? We’d love to hear your suggestions! And don’t miss out on these weekly sources of inspiration. Get on our subscription list now!

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post—more writing advice from Jack (the Hack) Scott!

Writers and other international creatives: If you want to know in advance whether you’re one of our Alice Award winners, sign up to receive The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with news of book giveaways, future posts, and of course, our weekly Alice Award!. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related posts:

%d bloggers like this: