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Tag Archives: Ask Mary-Sue

Dear Mary-Sue: Finessing Valentine’s Day abroad

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

Aloha to all my readers — or as I affectionately think of you, my Mary-Suers! This month finds me in sunny Hawaii — the island of Kauai, to be precise. As president of the Thorn Birds Appreciation Society, I’ve had to come out for the society’s annual trip to see where the series was shot. Yes, yes, I know it was set in the lovely land Down Under, but all those scenes of Richard Chamberlain smoldering away under the Queensland sun were in fact shot here in Kauai.

To think I get to walk along pathways and beaches that Richard once walked along — it’s enough to make a gal go weak at the knees.

So, seeing as I’m at the most romantic place IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!! — the spot where Rachel Ward snagged herself that dishy Mr C — and with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, little ol’ Mary-Sue is going to tackle your romantic quandaries.

Strap yourself in, things are about to get all Mary-Sue Wallace!

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Dear Mary-Sue,

I have a hot Brazilian girlfriend and am thinking of serenading her on Valentine’s Day. Any suggestions for a song?

Rick in Rio

Dear Rick in Rio,

I’m a trained therapist from no less an august institution as Tulsa Community College. I’m here to provide relationship advice. Maybe you could try that question on Delilah with better luck — or maybe not, I hear she can be one vicious b****.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue:

My American girlfriend gave me a Valentine’s card with a Cupid on it. I thought it was a comic book character but she said no. So who is Cupid, and what does he have to do with Valentine’s Day? Also, the Cupids in my comics have wings, but this one doesn’t have wings — why is that?

Kim in Seoul

Dear Kim in Seoul,

Who stole my heart?
You did, you did.
Bow to the target,
Blame Cupid, Cupid.

So sang Martin Fry in “Poison Arrow,” a song that btw Rick in Rio is not allowed to sing to his hot Brazilian girlfriend.

You see, Cupid is a naked baby that can fly. He has a bow and arrow that he shoots people with — in the case of this song, Martin Fry (I believe he’s the younger brother of Mr Stephen Fry). Cupid’s arrows don’t pierce the sternum and damage inner organs like, for example’s sake, Robin Hood’s arrow. No, when Cupid’s arrow pierces your heart, it doesn’t cause myocardial infarction but instead you fall in love with the first person you see — in Martin’s case with unfortunate consequences.

As to why the picture of Cupid in the card your girlfriend gave you doesn’t have wings, well that’s simple. That isn’t a picture of Cupid at all, but of a nondescript naked baby. She sounds like the sort who’d buy one of those Flower Baby Calenders — I’d get rid of her if I were you.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue:

How do I wish someone a Happy Valentine’s Day in French? I’m not sure if they celebrate it over here, but I’m hoping the Frenchwomen will find it charmant, coming from an American.

Peter in Paris

Dear Peter in Paris,

A quick look at my desktop calender reveals that it’s 2012, not 1945 — which means there’s nothing an American man can do to charm the young ladies of Paris. They just don’t appreciate your wholesome all-American charm. Shame, as I’m pretty certain you have a lovely smile. I can sense it from the letter you wrote that you have a lovely mid-Western smile.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue:

I’m a newcomer to the United States and someone just wished me a Happy Anti Valentines Day. What’s that supposed to mean?

Lars in Los Angeles

Dear Lars,

It’s a sign from the good Lord for you to (pardon my language) get the heck out of Los Angeles and move to Tulsa.

Mary-Sue

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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!”

Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post, a displaced Q about the best places to hook up with a honey abroad, by new Displaced Nation team member Tony James Slater (he’ll be writing from recent experience!).

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to register for The Displaced Dispatch, a round up of weekly posts from The Displaced Nation, with seasonal recipes, book giveaways and other extras. Register for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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Dear Mary-Sue: A brimful of ashram and other travel-related spiritual quests

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

And here’s to a happy 2012 to all of my peeps out there! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas — I know mine most certainly was. It’s always non-stop craziness in the ol’ Wallace homestead and Christmas 2011 was no exception — let me tell you! “Light of my life” (Ha! You should see me rolling my eyes as I type this) Jake went a little crazy with the Christmas lights this year. You’d have thought Rand Street, Tulsa, was in fact Vegas such was the amount of illumination we had going on. As I mentioned in my last column, New Year was spent unwinding and destressing in Iceland, but Christmas itself was all about Tulsa and the family. Of course, I was missing all my peeps. (I don’t like to think of you as mere readers, you’re all more than that, you’re buddies, you’re my peeps. Am I right? ‘course I am!) Well, anyway as I spent the yuletide period honey glazing my ham and making just the sweetest gingerbread men Rand Street ever did bite their teeth into, I was happiest knowing that 2012 would see me tackling all of your problems and sorting out your travel-related messes.

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Dear Mary-Sue,

I got a new Kindle for Xmas and downloaded a book I’ve always wanted to read, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I get the eating and the love parts, but am not so sure about praying — especially if it entails spending time at an ashram in India. Do you think that could be good for me?

Sharon, Cut and Shooot, Texas

Dear Sharon,

A Kindle!! How exciting! What a great present. At the risk of not being my usual super-modest self, you should check out some of my stuff on there. My new historical novel The Sigh of the Bosom is available to buy on there. It’s about a young orphan called Molly growing up in Colonial America. Don’t want to spoil too much of it for you, but little plain Molly gets quite the surprise when she discovers she isn’t in fact an orphan at all, but the true heir to the King of England. It’s gripping stuff, Sharon.

As for going to an ASH-ram, well as a committed non-smoker I am not sure that you should be doing that! Ha! Just a little bit of Mary-Sue Wallace humor there. More seriously, should you go to an ashram? Well, ol’ Mary-Sue Wallace mentioned this to her pastor, Rick. Rick, who might I add plays a mean guitar, is my go-to guy for all things spiritual — as well as for chilli (Rick makes a mean chilli). Anyhoo, Rick told me that spirituality isn’t about flying half-way across the world. Prayer isn’t dependent on location. While it might be nice to seek solitude, and who among us doesn’t crave that at times, what is important is the act of thinking, of contemplation.

I see you live in Texas. Why not go for a hike, take up watercolors, just do something that connects you to your local nature. If you just want to escape and have a change of scenery for a little while then sure, why not go all the way to India and visit an ashram. But if it’s about trying to reconnect with yourself, then I don’t think the answer lies in a plane ticket to India. Things just ain’t that easy.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m headed to India next week to try connecting with my inner spirituality. What do you think I should wear? Or should I buy an outfit once I get there?

Roseanne, Spunky Puddle, Ohio

Dear Roseanne,

A little fashionista birdie tells me Daisy Duke-style denim shorts are THE thing to wear in India in 2012.

Blessings,

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m thinking about taking a gap year next year and, because I’m so fed up with the rampant consumerism of the West, I’d like to go somewhere that could put me in touch with life’s spiritual aspects. Can you recommend anywhere — apart from India, that is, as I’m afraid of getting sick on the food?

Chad, Cheddar, South Carolina

Dear Chad,

Be a trendsetter and think outside the box. You sound like the sort of young guy who shouldn’t be following in the footsteps of others, you should be forging your own path. You know what you don’t hear people say very often? “I’m going on a pilgrimage to Maine,” that’s what. You can start that trend. This site seems to be a great place to start: http://www.visitmaine.com

Mary-Sue

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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!”

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Wednesday’s post — a firsthand account of how travel can lead to a simpler life.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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Dear Mary-Sue: Holiday travel plans & profound epiphanies

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

Dear Mary-Sue,

Would love some great travel tips for this holiday season. 

Anon, Vermont.

Dear Anon,

I love this time of year. Admittedly for a traveler it can be a very expensive and chaotic time so I try and strike a balance between travel and being at home. The Wallace household, like many families across the fine, fertile land, has its own holiday traditions that we like to observe at this time. For me, it’s about spending some time with little John, the intelligent one of my two grandkids, he comes over to stay  the weekend before Christmas. We make sure to make chex mix and drink hot mulled cider. We head on over to St Michael’s where we go to the annual Handel’s Messiah sing-in. My soprano leaves a little to be desired, but it’s always great fun nonetheless. John will then help me decorate the Christmas tree and then we’ll go and see all the wonderful lights that my neighbors who haven’t foreclosed have covered their houses in.

On Christmas Eve it’s time for John to go back to his parents, that’s when me and hubby Jake things up and it becomes all about just the two of us. We pack all of our warmest, snuggliest clothing and get on a plane to Reykjavik. Once there we also stay at  our favorite hotel near the Hallgrimskirkja. Once we’ve slept off our jet lag and had a lovely cup of hot chocolate, we then give it large until New Year’s Eve. There’s one club, in particular, we hang out in called the Birch Tree. Now hubby Jake likes his trance to be fairly chilled, but I’m more about old skool Acid trance. When Gunnar is DJing at the Birch Tree he always manages to give a set that balances hubby Jake’s tastes with mine. We then might hit the sauna and do some shots of Brennivin with this South African couple we always meet up with at Christmas, because that’s what the season is about for ol’ Mary-Sue – celebrating your own traditions.

Mary-Sue

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Dear Mary-Sue,

Earlier this month, as I was trekking through the Kilimanjaro National Park, which is in Tanzania, with these local guys who I knew, I was struck by — and the readership of my blog The Wistful Traveler all agreed — a beautifully profound thought.  It was about how fortunate I was to be there at that moment, to be alive in the now. I blogged about it, you should check it out on my blog. There’s some pretty amazing pictures there too. Now my question to you Mary-Sue is this, do you have any profound thoughts like I do?

The Wistful Traveler, Everywhere and nowhere.

Only when drinking Brennivin.

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Dear Mary-Sue,

Thank you so much for responding to my question in last month’s “Ask Mary-Sue.” I was so pleased to be featured that I’m sending an early Christmas present of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts for you. Anyhoo, I was wondering if you might want to reconsider your response that you can’t meet up for coffee. I’ve tried calling your office, but they keep saying that you’re out. Such a shame as I really would love to pick your brains over coffee – not literally, ha, ha, ha. That would just be disturbing. You’re my inspiration.

Susie-May, Arizona

Dear Susie May,

Thanks for the present. My unpaid intern tells me that they were delicious. Unfortunately, my calendar is really full at the moment.

Mary-Sue

p.s. You really should stop calling my office.

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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!”

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Wednesday’s post — another Random Nomad in our global philanthropy series.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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Dear Mary-Sue: Gap year destinations and learning to speak properly

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m in my last year of school, but instead of just mundanely heading off to university next September I’m planning on taking a gap year. I have some older friends who went on gap years and I was really impressed with how it rounded out their CVs. I was initially thinking of going to an ashram, but then I thought that I should go to where I can be the most useful. As I’ve heard you’re such a font of knowledge when it comes to matters of travel and international relations. Any suggestions?

Archie, Bath, England.

Dear Archie,

Go where you are most needed, sweet noble prince.  I say Somalia. Or Fresno.

Dear Mary-Sue,

I love reading the little globules of wisdom you spit out for us. I think we must have been separated at birth! We’re like two peas in a pod. Like you, I live in Arizona and I love all things British. Even the crap stuff like Torchwood. Anyhoo (wonder who I learned that term from? I love it! Use it all the time) I have one teeny query re: my one little teeny — my 13-year-old son, Scott. The other day I was watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for, like, the thousandth time and I was thinking: why can’t my Scott speak like one of those lovely Harry Potter teenagers? I want him to sound a little more Dan Radcliffe and a little less Dan Ackroyd.

Susie-May, Arizona

p.s. Want to meet up?

Dear Susie May,

I have two words for you: Nicholas Witchell. Being a committed member of the sisterhood of the tea cosy (that’s the Mary-Sue term for an anglophile), you doubtless knew about the divine Nicholas W. His fiery red hair matching his fiery red passion. He’s clearly sex-on-legs — am I right or am I right, girls? Being the BBC Royal Correspondent, Nicholas not only has brains but also a healthy, deferential respect for constitutional monarchies. Now what I suggest is that you go onto YouTube and find all the Nicholas Witchell footage that you can find. Now your son Scott needs to spend at least an hour a day listening to Nicholas’s dulcet tones. Hopefully, he’ll do it willingly, but if he doesn’t then you may need to strap him down to a gurney. Also, if you take the audio from the videos and burn it onto a CD, you can make sure when Scott goes to bed, he turns on the CD. While he’s asleep the soothing voice of Nicky W. will be playing in Scott’s ears. Subconsciously, Scott’s brain will absorb all of Nicholas Witchell’s good speaking habits and before you know it little Scott will be like your own Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Mary-Sue

p.s. No.

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!”

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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The Displaced Nation’s Halloween post is…mysteriously displaced!

Kate Allison was supposed to post today, for Halloween…but then, pouf, she vanished without a trace!

How very strange, we think you’ll agree…

Her topic was going to be Halloween costumes for expats. Given her offbeat sense of humor, none of us would have been the least bit surprised had she suggested we dress up as:

  • Dorothy, staggering around with a sign that says “I’m not in Kansas any more.”
  • Pocahontas &  John Rolfe — suitable for cross-cultural, bi-racial couples with large age differences.
  • Mary-Sue Wallace, to give ourselves a break from feeling displaced for a few hours.
  • A giant red snail, to signal enthusiastic support for the slow-food movement that began in Italy and is s-l-o-w-l-y spreading around the world.
  • Marcel Proust, carrying a madeleine and looking very displaced.

But instead of speculating what Kate might have written about, perhaps we should be spending our time wondering where she has gone. ML Awanohara and Anthony Windram have a few hypotheses — do let us know if you can think of any others!

  1. She enjoyed a repast of the seven deadly dishes from around the world, overdosed on snake wine, took a nap to recover, and hasn’t yet woken up.
  2. She is out flying on a broomstick with her fictional sidekick, Libby — or, even more likely, with Libby’s nemesis, Melissa (and they are evilly plotting Melissa’s next move on Libby).
  3. She was the victim of some sort of gothic expat tale — either a trick-or-treater dressed up as Hannibal Lecter, who thought she looked tasty and got carried away; or else some sort of natural disaster, such as a bizarre October blizzard, leading to widespread power outages.

Kate, chills are running down our spines as we fantasize about all the spooky things that might have befallen you on this All Hallows’ Eve. New England is not the same as Merry Olde, as no doubt you and your English family have discovered…

Of course, knowing you as well as we do, you may simply be playing a prank by not treating us with one of your posts.

But if that’s not the case and you truly have been spirited away, send us a signal, and the citizens of The Displaced Nation will perform some incantations on your behalf over a bubbling cauldron — a molten mix of Marmite, Fluff and chocolate, with the odd tongue-in-cheek thrown in…

STAY TUNED for Tuesday’s post, introducing November’s theme, on those who displace themselves on behalf of those less fortunate.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Image: MorgueFile

Dear Mary-Sue: Things to do in Paris

Mary-Sue Wallace is back and she’s dishing out advice to the helpless like it were soup, soup from a big tureen of common sense in the soup kitchen we call the blogosphere … or something like that. If you are looking for solace, then you need Mary-Sue Wallace. Submit your questions and comments here, or if you are a shy bunny requesting anonymity then you can email Mary-Sue directly at thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

Dear Mary-Sue,

Growing up here in Japan as a big-time Francophile, all my life I’ve wanted to visit Paris. This fall I finally have a chance to go visit it for myself. I am so happy at the thought. I will get to stroll the streets and eat plenty of good food. Being such a travel expert could you give me a list of the top things you think I should do when visiting Paris?

— PA, Kyoto

Dear PA,

Ol’ Coley Porter put it best when he wrote that lovely classic of his, I love Paris. “I love Paris in the springtime / I love Paris in the fall / I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles / I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles.” And that sums up so perfectly and so succinctly my own thoughts about this darlin’ city. No matter the time of year, I fall in love with it. Whenever I arrive in Paris, I always make sure on that first night that I go for a stroll along the Seine. Ah, bliss. And when that’s over I go to a little cafe that I adore that is called…

….wait a moment….

….hmm….

….I’m sorry about this, PA, but I just noticed that you wrote that you’re from Japan. In that case, forget Paris. It’s overrated. Have you thought of visiting Malmo? I hear there’s also an interesting cement works in Frankfurt, you could go there. I’m sure it’s fascinating. And people keep telling me Swansea is the Paris of south Wales…

…Aw, shoot. As a loyal Mary-Sue-ite, you deserve a fuller explanation from me, PA. A Japanese Francophile finally visiting Paris after a lifetime of waiting? Aw, honey, sounds like you could be a prime candidate for Paris syndrome. Certain places just seem to have a strange effect on people. Believe me, I know this only too well. It’s why I’m never going back to Jerusalem. Went on a cruise there with my hubby Jake a few years back. Darn it if he didn’t come over all Messianic on me – thought he could walk on water. Well, the fine people at Cunard weren’t too impressed when he went overboard when trying to be all Matthew 14.

And Paris syndrome ‘aint no picnic either, honey. You can end up psychologically destabilized, suffering anxiety, hallucinations, feelings of persecution. Many Japanese visitors to Paris go there with such a romanticized image of the city and its occupants, that it’s a place of sophistication and politeness, that when they finally get there and see for themself the surly, rude reality of Paris they simply can’t cope. 

So PA, I ask again, have you thought about going to Frankfurt? 

— Mary-Sue

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.

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

img: Close, by Corina Sanchez.

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

Related post:

Dear Mary-Sue: Tempted to make invidious cross-cultural comparisons

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com.

Dear Wallace-sensei,
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)

Dear SY-san,

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.
— Mary-Sue

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com, 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.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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The Displaced Nation’s Agony Aunt: Introducing Mary-Sue

Please give a warm welcome to Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt. We’re delighted to have Mary-Sue on board and know that her thoughtful advice will be able to ease and soothe our readers with any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion that they may have.

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 thedisplacednation@gmail.com, or by adding to the comments below.

I’m a 68-year-old retired insurance salesman from Buffalo, NY. Six months ago I got married for a second time to a woman that I met on www.meetukranianbrides.com, an international matchmaking site. My new wife, Oksana, is 24 and she seems increasingly distant with me. I’m worried that she doesn’t like Buffalo as much as I thought she would and that she’s having second thoughts about me. What can I do? DP, Buffalo.

Oh, DP, I think it’s time to start turning that frown upside down, don’t you? As you write in your letter, you’re a retired insurance salesman from Buffalo. What’s not to love about that? How can that fail to get the passion inflamed? My husband, Jake, is a retired insurance salesman from Tulsa, and let me tell you, I could not be happier — both in and out of the bedroom.

I bet you have a nice little pension from a life spent working hard. Now is the time to open up that wallet and throw the moolah around a bit. That way you can have a romantic time while also showing off all the best that Buffalo has to offer. Take her to Country Buffet or to Cracker Barrel, order her the meatloaf, she’ll soon stop her pining for Odessa. And over your romantic all-you-can-eat buffet, why not take this time to open up about yourself. Us gals love to know how our hubbys tick, believe me. Tell Oksana about your time as an insurance salesman. Tell her precisely how premiums work. Explain how your job was to give peace of mind to your average Joe. Believe me, Oksana will be reminded of just why she fell in love with you in the first place, that magical moment when she logged into her email and saw the JPEG file of your passport photo you’d sent her.

As an Irish Expat in Austria I sometimes have a hard time connecting with people. It seems humour-wise I’m on a different wavelength to everyone else. I’m used to using humour to diffuse situations or to put people at ease, but every time I make a joke here it’s met with stony silence. The sort of stuff that they laugh at I get really confused by. How can I bridge this humour gap? MA, Vienna.

It’s Austria, stony silence is a good thing. It’s when they start laughing at your jokes you’ve got a problem — that’s the time you really need to ask for help.

img: Close, by Corina Sanchez.

STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, on celebrated women travel writers of old.

If you enjoyed this post, we invite you to subscribe to The Displaced Dispatch, a weekly round up of posts from The Displaced Nation, plus some extras such as seasonal recipes and occasional book giveaways. Sign up for The Displaced Dispatch by clicking here!

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