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Category Archives: 2014 Alice Awards

And the February 2014 Alices go to … these 3 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 as a spur to greater creative heights.

Today’s post honours February’s three Alice recipients. Starting with the most recent, they are (drumroll…):

1) MICHELLE WELSCH, writer, traveler, founder of Project Exponential

For her post: “Quitting everything to go to Nepal was the best thing I’ve done” on Medium.com
Posted on: 27 December 2013
Snippet:

And everywhere I went, there were EYES. Always eyes. Constant staring, asking the same questions: Where are you from? What are you doing in Nepal? How long have you been here? How old are you? Are you married? Why not?

Sometimes I just wanted to “blend in” and not be reminded of my whiteness and the privileges that come with being an American…

So no, not every day was perfect. But even the imperfect days added to the experience.

One of the monks asked me, “If there is no night, how can there be day?”

Citation: Michelle, the monk’s line of questioning puts us in mind of the cross-examination to which Alice is subjected upon encountering the Caterpillar:

“You!” said the Caterpillar contemptuously. “Who are YOU?”

Which brought them back again to the beginning of the conversation. Alice felt a little irritated at the Caterpillar’s making such VERY short remarks, and she drew herself up and said, very gravely, “I think, you ought to tell me who YOU are, first.”

“Why?” said the Caterpillar.

Also, if you were bothered by all the eyes staring at you, imagine how poor Alice felt when being scrutinized by a creature with twelve eyes. Yes, that’s what caterpillars have, a dozen eyes. That said, the Caterpillar, whose one and only job is to eat (it increases its body mass by 1,000 times or more), would undoubtedly admire your fortitude in being able to drink tea with sugar and consume lots of carbs without obsessing about food or weight or calories. All told, while your post helps us to understand the charms of this South Asian land, we are still shaking our heads at the notion of monks enjoying water balloons. As the Caterpillar will tell you, water balloons don’t rate, their potential to become psychedelic hallucinogens being rather too limited.

2) AMY R., blogger and British serial expat

For her post: “Expat Life: Love Lessons Learned” on her blog, The Tide That Left
Posted on: 14 February 2014
Snippet:

We ended 2013 by moving to Tanzania. It was the year of learning to be flexible; most importantly to be flexible with each other. I used to be the kind of girl who needed her life mapped out, but since we started our expat life together we’ve both had to find a way to go with the flow. We’ve chosen a lifestyle that throws up the unexpected, and we wouldn’t be able to cope if we didn’t roll with the changes.

Citation: “Roll with the changes”—Amy, that’s exactly what Alice decided to do when her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table, which turned out to contain a very small cake, on which the words “EAT ME: were beautifully marked in currants:

“Well, I’ll eat it,” said Alice, “and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I’ll get into the garden, and I don’t care which happens!”

As you can see, in a land where cakes can make you grow larger or smaller, there is little point in mapping out one’s life, especially when you have reasonable hope of getting into the garden eventually. We’re ever so glad you realized that, and just in time for entering your own Garden of Love! (Hope you and your hubby had a happy Valentine’s Day!)

3) MANAL KHAN, journalist, poet, essayist, photographer, and storyteller

For her post: How to Make Friends in a New City—Tip #5, on her blog, Windswept Words
Posted on: 28 January 2014
Snippet

So, if you ever find yourself lost, alone and friendless in a new city, wondering why on God’s earth you ever transplanted yourself in the first place: don’t worry! It takes time for a plant to adjust to new soil, a new atmosphere. But once it gets over the wilting, drooping, moping period—”transplant shock” in botanical terms—it thrives.

Citation: Manal, imagine yourself, like Alice, having landed in a garden where the flowers can talk “very nicely,” for no apparent reason:

“Put your hand down, and feel the ground,” said the Tiger-lily. “Then you’ll know why.”

Alice did so. “It’s very hard,” she said, “but I don’t see what that has to do with it.”

“In most gardens,” the Tiger-lily said, “they make the beds too soft—so that the flowers are always asleep.”

That’s some transplant shock, don’t you think? In any event, we agree entirely that the botanical analogy goes a long way towards explaining why some of us feel displaced when attempting to put down a few roots in our new culture. Until the process is complete, there is little else we can do but indulge in the occasional wilt/droop/mope, as you say. And just think, if the soil proves sustaining, we may one day flower to the point of talking “very nicely” in the native tongue…

*  *  *

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 fab post.

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!

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And the January 2014 Alices go to … these 3 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 as a spur to greater creative heights.

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

1) AMBER PAULEN, American freelance writer and copyeditor based in Rome, and blogger at Descriptedlines

For her post: “Paesaggio Interiore” (Interior Passages)
Posted on: 17 January 2014
Snippet:

Dreamers are thought to be opposite of the practical, yet I see no difference. Imagining is a practicality that we use in order to survive—an imagined outcome may prevent us from a certain action—but it also makes our lives better. Imagination is the begetter of empathy and the foundation of utopias. It is also, on a minute basis, a way of interpreting the world—the wider these interpretations span, the farther the imagination sees, the more adaptable we are, one of the human race’s single best attributes. Try to find an intelligent mind with a small imagination.

Citation: Amber, we could not agree more with you about the practicality of dreaming, and about the need to put greater value on the life of the mind. Scrolling through the endless photos of man-made and natural scenery that occupy so many travel blogs and Pinterest boards these days can have a numbing effect, reducing life to a set of exterior images—in denial of the fact that each of us possesses some pretty vivid, not to say revealing, internal scenery. What’s more, we believe that the imagination is an extremely powerful, as well as much under-rated, survival tool for expats—the key to our adaptability, as you might put it. On the days when your new life in X country is looking rather grim or mundane, you can always slip into a fantasy land, pretending you’re a royal or a hungry hyena, just as Lewis Carroll’s Alice was wont to do:

And here I wish I could tell you half the things Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase “Let’s pretend.”

She had had quite a long argument with her sister only the day before—all because Alice had begun with “Let’s pretend we’re kings and queens;” and her sister, who liked being very exact, had argued that they couldn’t, because there were only two of them, and Alice had been reduced at last to say, “Well, YOU can be one of them then, and I’LL be all the rest.”

And once she had really frightened her old nurse by shouting suddenly in her ear, “Nurse! Do let’s pretend that I’m a hungry hyaena, and you’re a bone.”

2) DRAKE BAER, contributing writer at Fast Company and co-author of Everything Connects

For his post: “Why weird people are often more creative,” in Fast Company
Posted on: 10 January 2014
Snippet:

In a 2003 study, Carson found that eminent creative achievers were seven times more likely to to have low rather than high latent intelligence scores. That insight prompted her to form a hypothesis: that cognitive disinhibiting allows for way more info to enter into your conscious mind–which you can then tinker with and recombine. The result: creative ideas.

Citation: Drake, we commend you for marshalling the evidence to support something that Lewis Carroll knew intuitively, without the benefit of Carson’s (or anyone else’s) study. Indeed, the world Alice discovers when she steps through the looking glass is teeming with flaming weirdos who, while they may seem rather dim witted at times, let’s face it, are super creative. Take this encounter with Humpty Dumpty, for example, in Through the Looking Glass:

“You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir,” said Alice. “Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the poem called ‘Jabberwocky'”?’

“Let’s hear it,” said Humpty Dumpty. “I can explain all the poems that were ever invented—and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet.”

3) MILDA RATKELYTE, writer, photographer and a budding filmmaker based in Singapore

For her post: “Lessons from 2013,” in her blog, Milda Ratkelyte Photography
Posted on: 1 January 2014
Snippet:

This year I am starting with one simple resolution—slow down and find the time every single day to smell the roses. Although 2013 was probably the hardest year in my life, I am grateful to all the strength it gave me and all the invaluable lessons I’ve learnt along the way…Never take your loved ones for granted, because life is so fragile that you never know if you will get a chance to see them again. Pick up the phone, tell them you love them NOW, not tomorrow or next week. Trust me it will make a huge difference.

Citation: Milda, we have appreciated your lens on the wider world ever since we featured you and some of your photographs in our monthly column “A Picture Says…” And now that you are learning the price of a peripatetic life—living far away from your loved ones, who may be suffering—we appreciate your emotional honesty. As Alice herself discovered when parted from her beloved cat, Dinah:

Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. “Dinah’ll miss me very much to-night, I should think!” (Dinah was the cat.) “I hope they’ll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I’m afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that’s very like a mouse, you know.”

While Alice’s concerns are trivial compared to those currently confronting you, we wish that like her, you discover a garden of red roses (only in your case, may they not smell of fresh paint!).
 

*  *  *

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, an interview with some American entrepreneurs in Senegal.

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:

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