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Posts Tagged ‘anthology’

Blood and marriage draw families together but often whole worlds continue to separate us as individuals. Lifestyle choices. Generations. In-laws. Siblings. Achieving – and maintaining — harmony is a challenge we all seem to face.

Some clans need more help than others. Around our holiday table in 1979, my fractious relatives were gifted with a sudden ability to perceive each other as the loveable characters we truly are, every day of the year. Our secret ingredient for interplanetary peace? An unseen substance in the stuffing.

The basic recipe: Rivalrous teenage sisters. Strait-laced mom. Judgmental 70-something grandparents who abhor visiting funkytown Berkeley (“Nowhere to park the Oldsmobile! Don’t understand the furniture!”). Add a hefty, home-grown Christmas present from off-the-grid Oregon satellites. Stir: New York Beatnik dad boasting he’s stuffing the turkey with the hippie herb. At last minute toss in grandparents’ newly widowed neighbor, the sweet and fragile soul Mary Jane. Carve the bird, wait 20 minutes for cosmic family consciousness to settle. Serve in a rosy light.

When Chicken Soup for the Soul debuted fifteen years ago, to my ironic sensibility the upbeat anthology title sounded more like a Saturday Night Live “Deep Thoughts” skit than what would become the bestselling paperback series in the history of publishing. My “Thanksgiving With Mary Jane”, which appears in “All in the Family” — the Chicken Soup volume released today — also seemed at the time more joke than enduring lesson about who and what we love.

Orthodox or not, care to share your holiday recipe for family harmony?

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Expat Harem has a new global niche.

The Expat Harem — a concept I coined in 2004 with Jennifer Eaton Gokmen and brought to life in 2005 and 2006 in the foreign women in Turkey anthology Tales from the Expat Harem — has always been about a modern and virtual community of cultural peers.

windows into the expat harem by Leslie Dann

Now the (softly) relaunched ExpatHarem.com is expat+HAREM, the global niche and aims to bring its community to life online as a neoculture hub for global citizens and identity adventurers as well as travelers and culturati, fans of the anthology, and Turkophiles.

Re-imagining the role Expat Harem plays in the cultural conversation, this new venture acknowledges the permanent liminality of today’s multicultural, global existence. Like the nation of Turkey itself — its struggles are both personal and universal, self-perception East yet also West, looking toward Europe or Asia, ancient empire persisting under the surface of new republic. In some small or large way, all of us are coming or going, crossing threshold after threshold but never arriving.

I’m looking forward to engaging with you about the crossroads and dichotomies of our hybrid lives….

  • modern existences in historic places
  • deep-rooted traditions translated in mobile times
  • limiting stereotypes revisited for wider meaning
  • the expat mindset as it evolves from nationalism to globalism

COLLABORATION WELCOME: Guest contributors are invited to make this global niche their own. Peruse the (very basic) guidelines.

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Happily at home in Istanbul in 2007, I flipped through Unsuitable for Ladies. Edited by Jane Robinson, this anthology of female travel writing crisscrosses the globe and stretches back into ancient history. Complete candy for me.

Around the same time I was ruminating in an essay for a global nomad magazine why I’ve come to employ a defensive strategy for my expatriatism

Sense of self is my most valuable expatriate possession.

During my first long-term stint overseas in the ’90s my boundaries were over-run by circumstance and culture. Language and cultural barriers prevented me from expressing my identity. I’d tell Malaysians I was a writer. They’d reply, “Horses?”  I was mistaken for a different Western woman in Asia. A crew of Indonesian laborers working at my house wondered when I was going to drink a beer and take off my shirt. Like leather shoes and handbags molding overnight, expat life on the equator made me feel my sense of self was decomposing at time-lapse speed.

A thunderbolt from Robinson: “Southeast Asia has more than its share of reluctant women travelers.”

She compiled Wayward Women, a survey of 350 female travel writers through 16 centuries so her conclusion about Southeast Asian travelers is drawn from a massive canon. In that moment, my hardest-won lessons of expatriatism felt vindicated. 

Travelers and expats: What happens to your unique experience if you consider yourself part of a continuum?

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For an anthology* I recently wrote an essay about why the practice wasn’t cool in my Berkeley family — even though our 1969 Volkswagen bus was a hitch-hiker’s dream, even though it seemed everyone in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s was hitch-hiking. My parents were big city people who didn’t buy the hitch-hiking compact.  Plus, hitch-hiking was at the heart of serial killer lore for this California kid —  the Zodiac Killer’s San Francisco, the Hillside Strangler‘s Los Angeles.  One September 1978 day my family’s mindset — and a half a mile — separated me from a teenage girl who was mutilated after sticking out her thumb.

*In 2005 Tom and Simon Sykes produced No Such Thing As A Free Ride? in the UK, serialized by London Times and named Travel Book of the Week by the Observer. The new volume aims to capture what hitch-hiking means to Americans, and America.

What did hitch-hiking mean to your family (and your community) when you were a child and how did it affect your practices when you reached adolescence/adulthood?

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