writing

Blogging and Chocolate Cake

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I have been blogging for two years now. Seems like just yesterday. I started my blog to promote my book, Expat Alien. I didn’t know what I was doing or if anybody would even read it. What I found was a whole new world. There are millions of bloggers out there. I had no idea. People blog about everything. Some blog a lot, some not so much.

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To mark the occasion I though I might find one of Julia Child’s cake recipes. It seemed appropriate since she was an expat. However her recipes tend to be three and four pages long and that is a lot of work. So here is my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I have made a million times. It comes from the Joy of Cooking 1975 edition.

And keep on blogging!

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Cocoa Devil’s Food Cake

Two 9-inch round pans

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine, beat until well blended, and set aside:

1 cup sugar

½ cup cocoa

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt

Beat until soft

½ cup butter

Add gradually and cream until light:

1 cup sifted sugar

Beat in, one at a time:

2 eggs

Beat in cocoa mixture.

Sift before measuring:

2 cups cake flour

Resift with:

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Add the flour in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternately with:

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

Beat batter after each addition just until smooth.

Grease the pans and cook for 35 minutes in a 375 degree F oven.

When cooled, spread the cake with your favorite icing.

 

 

Expat Gertrude Stein

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I discovered Gertrude Stein my senior year in high school when I was taking an Art History class. I was told to write a paper on something to do with art and I couldn’t think of anything so my teacher gave me a book called “Matisse, Picasso and Gertrude Stein with Two Shorter Stories” by Gertrude Stein. I think I wrote my paper on Picasso but what grabbed my interest was Gertrude. I was hooked. I had never read anything like it. I asked my teacher why they didn’t tell us about her in English class. I was informed not everybody appreciated Gertrude.

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Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. When someone commented that Stein didn’t look like her portrait, Picasso replied, “She will.” Stein wrote “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso” in response to the painting.

Gertrude was born 140 years ago on February 3, in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Her father and her uncle owned a textile business with stores in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Maryland. The brothers did not get along so in 1875 her father took the family to live in Vienna, Austria. Thus began Gertrude’s travels. Three years later they moved to Paris and lived there for five years. They spent 1879 with relatives in Baltimore where Gertrude learned English after speaking first German and then French.

The family moved to Oakland, California in 1880. Gertrude’s mother, Amelia died eight years later of cancer. Gertrude was 14. Two years later her father died and she returned to Baltimore to live with an aunt. She went on to study philosophy and English at Radcliff College and ended up back in Baltimore studying medicine at Johns Hopkins. She spent her summers traveling around Europe with her brother, Leo. By 1903, she was failing her classes and her scandalous lesbian love affair ended badly. She moved to Paris and did not return to America for 30 years.

Gertrude and Leo collected art and became friends with many artists of the day. Leo started to paint and Gertrude wrote. They held Saturday night salons in their home to meet and promote artists and writers. In 1906 Picasso painted her portrait and gave it to her. Her portrait of Picasso was published about twenty years later.

Picasso

She wrote The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas in 1933. This was her first “mainstream” piece and it was a bestseller. She was fifty-nine years old. Enjoying her new-found fame, she embarked on a lecture series across America, her first time back since moving to France.

“When I was in America for the first time travelled pretty much all the time in an airplane and when I looked at the earth I saw all the lines of cubism made at a time when not any painter had ever gone up in an airplane. I saw there on the earth the mingling lines of Picasso, coming and going, developing and destroying themselves. I saw the simple solution of Braque, I saw the wandering lines of Masson, yes I saw and once more I knew that a creator is contemporary, he understands what is contemporary when the contemporaries do not yet know it…” –Picasso

I admit it can be difficult to read some of her work. She writes long sentences without any punctuation and repeats herself endlessly. In Lectures in America she writes:

I began to get enormously interested in hearing how everybody said the same thing over and over again with infinite variations but over and over again until finally if you listened with great intensity you could hear it rise and fall and tell all that there was inside them, not so much by the actual words they said or the thoughts they had but the movement of their thoughts and words endlessly the same and endlessly different.  – Lectures in America

She returned to France and moved to the country during World War II living a low profile simple life. In 1946 she was diagnosed with colon cancer and died on the operating table. She left her writings to Yale University, her Picasso portrait to the New York Metropolitan Museum, and everything else to her lifelong companion, Alice B Toklas. She was buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris with a tombstone designed by Francis Rose. Her birthplace was misspelled “Allfghany” and her date of death was two days off.

I think her writings are wonderful pieces of art and I enjoy reading them albeit in short bursts. She had a wonderful sense of humor, said what she thought and lived life to the fullest.

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In an essay for Life Magazine in 1945 she wrote:

When General Osborne came to see me just after the victory, he asked me what I thought should be done to educate the Germans. I said there is only one thing to be done and that is to teach them disobedience, as long as they are obedient so long sooner or later they will be ordered about by a bad man and there will be trouble. Teach them disobedience, I said, make every German child know that it is its duty at least once a day to do its good deed and not believe something its father or its teacher tells them, confuse their minds, get their minds confused and perhaps then they will be disobedient and the world will be at peace. The obedient peoples go to war, disobedient people like peace, that is the reason that Italy did not really become a good Axis, the people were not obedient enough, …

General Osborn shook his head sadly, you’ll never make the heads of an army understand that.

– Off We All Went to See Germany

You can listen to Gertrude Stein reading from her work online.

 

- Original post at: Baltimore Post Examiner

TCK Resilience

Photo on 11-26-12 at 8.32 AM

Resilience is defined as the ability to bounce back quickly, to cope with stress and adversity.  According to some people Third Culture Kids are very resilient.  I never thought of myself that way.  I just dealt with things as they came up and moved on.  It was like being on auto pilot.

When I landed in a country I had never been to before and there was nobody to meet me at the airport, I didn’t hesitate at all.  I changed money and went looking for some kind of transportation.  I wasn’t going to sit around worrying about it.  Although, had I sat around for a while, I might have seen my father come looking for me instead of missing him as we crossed paths.

When I went to boarding school at 13 and people thought I was weird I did whine about it a little.  But I moved on.  I slowly figured out that I needed to adapt and try to fit in.  I was young for my age and had lived overseas all my life.  I landed in the USA in the middle of a cultural revolution I knew very little about.   I absorbed all the information I could and not only did I adapt to it all but I embraced it.

When we moved to Africa a few years later and I went off to boarding school in Switzerland, I was prepared to live away from home and up on world topics.  I was ahead of the curve.

Once again it all broke down when I went to college in the USA.  I was too international now.  I had to rein it in and become more local.  I had to adapt to another culture.  I was so used to discussing travel, European art, and world politics with my peers that I didn’t think before I opened my mouth and blabbed about my high school experiences.  My new peers could not relate and thought I was bragging.

My new persona emerged and I was quiet inside my shell for a long time.  No more story telling here.  But I managed to eventually adapt to that as well.  I made friends and existed on a different level.  I became one of them.

So who was I?  How could I find myself and figure out what I should be doing?  All I wanted to do was get out of town.  To move on.  That’s what I had always done, wasn’t it?  Just dealt with the immediate problem and moved on.  I didn’t know why.  I never really thought about it that much.  I just knew I was not comfortable.  I was searching for something but didn’t know what it was.  I was living between cultures.  I didn’t feel American but I didn’t feel Mexican or Colombian or Nigerian, or Swiss.  I was unique, I was different.

Years later I learned I was a Third Culture Kid  - somebody who grew up in a culture not their own.  I discovered  I was not the only one who felt this way. Norma McCaig of Global Nomads wrote:

The benefits of this upbringing need to be underscored:  In an era when global vision is an imperative, when skills in intercultural communication, linguistic ability, mediation, diplomacy, and the management of diversity are critical, global nomads are better equipped in these areas by the age of eighteen than are many adults… These intercultural and linguistic skills  are the markings of the cultural chameleon — the young participant-observer who takes note of verbal and nonverbal cues and readjusts accordingly, taking enough of the coloration of the social surroundings to gain acceptance while maintaining some vestige of identity as a different animal, an “other.”

I wish I had read that when I was eighteen!  :)

Does knowing all of this solve my restlessness, make me more comfortable?  No, it doesn’t solve it but it helps me understand it.  I know what it is and why I am the way I am.  It isn’t a bad thing.  But as I grow older, I think I have become less tolerant of ignorant people.  If somebody doesn’t know where France is or hates Muslims, or thinks Berlusconi is a type of pasta, I just don’t really bother to put any effort out.  I let it go.  When I was younger, I would try to educate or sometimes I would just brush it aside and try to make myself acceptable to them.  I don’t do that anymore.  I move on.

I recently published a book about all my trials and tribulations, joys and challenges and adventures growing up all over the world.  But it was not easy.  I spent a lot of time writing with tears streaming down my face.  I suppose I need deep psycho therapy to figure that out.  But when it was all done.  I felt better.  Something had been resolved.  I had accomplished what I set out to do and I felt positive.  I still do.  Although I am now facing another hurdle.  Being single for the first time in many years.  Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad one.    Oh, well.  I guess I will just have to deal with it and move on….

I’m feeling resilient.

 

 

Blog of the Year Thanksgiving

 

 

 

 

It is almost Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  I think it is the most important holiday we have.  It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity.  It is the one day a year this big melting pot comes together on common ground and takes a moment to reflect on all the things they have and should be thankful for.  They don’t all eat Turkey, they don’t all watch Football, they don’t all have big families surrounding them, but they all have something to be thankful for, even if it is something small.  And this day should remind them of that.

One thing I am thankful for is this blog and all the fellow bloggers I have come in contact with over the past 8 months.  I love writing little stories and reading other people’s pieces.  I am only sorry I don’t have time to read as much as  I would like.  There is so much interesting stuff out there!!

Maggie at Fly Away Home was one of my first followers and she has been very supportive all the way through.  I have enjoyed reading about her life in Norway and growing up on the New Jersey shore.  Her book, Fly Away Home, is great! Check it out.

Maggie has now bestowed the Blog of the Year 2012 Award on me. Thank you, Maggie!

Well, it has been an interesting year.

I started my blog with my new Mantra:  “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I have written 109 posts about growing up TCK, travel, genealogy, my current life, and various other miscellaneous things that popped into my head.  I started a Food Friday blog that brought me back to my love of cooking.  And, I published my memoir, Expat Alien.

Plus I had my gallbladder removed!!   (Thank you all for your comments and best wishes!)

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am passing this award to:

Wanderlust Gene – because her beautiful photos are other-worldly and transport me to far away places

ExpatLingo – because she makes me laugh

Dounia – because she is a fellow TCK who “gets” it

Moonbeam McQueen– because she persevered and published her book, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations: A Book of Light Verse

Award Rules:

  • Select the blogs you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012 Award’.
  • Write a post and tell about the blogs you have chosen and present them with their award.
  • Please include a link back to this page Blog of the 2012 Year Award and include these rules (do not alter the rules or the badges).
  • Let the blogs you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the rules with them.
  • You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here Blog of the Year 2012 Award and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.

As a winner of the award please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award. Proudly display the award on your side bar and start collecting stars.

She Wore White Linen

 

 

 

 

 

 

November is National Novel Writing Month.  The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1, and November 30.  Well, a first draft, anyway.  I don’t know if it is possible but I figure, why not give it a try?  Motivation!!!!!

 

Chapter 1

Stepping off the airplane the air was thick enough to cut with a knife.  She choked on her first breath, faltering for a moment, the second one came easier.  She was dressed in white linen, fitting for the tropics.   Or so she thought.  She had not taken the dirt and grime of an African city into consideration.  She was not going to a vacation resort but one of the bustling capitals of the Dark Continent.  Having never been in this part of the world before, she had no idea what she was getting herself into.  She was to find a completely alien world.

As she saw everybody pushing and shoving to get through immigration, she began to realize it would be some time before she arrived at her destination.  Passports were being waved in the air and the rank smell of people who were obviously unaware of soap filled her nostrils.  She tried to keep her composure but decided she must stand her ground if she ever wanted to get out of the airport.

Finally the immigration man took her passport.  She smiled at him using all her charm hoping it would speed up the process.  It did not.  He tediously filed out the necessary forms and stamped everything several times and then he leaned down and gruffly said,  “Make your way to the Health Counter”.

There being no through passage, she had to fight her way back through the crowd and around to the next stop.  Her vaccinations were in order and again she fought her way to the luggage area.  There, young boys descended on her asking to carry her bags.  Being laden down with a coat, a carry-on bag, and her purse, she agreed to let them.  They had to dig through the pile but finally all her luggage was accounted for.

As she approached the gate, an official asked if she had anything to declare.  She couldn’t think what he meant and said “No”.

On the other side of the gate, a mob was stretching to see the people inside, looking for a familiar face or an easy mark.  Several men asked her if she wanted a taxi but she paid no attention as she was also stretching to see a familiar face.

Her dark brown eyes relaxed as a man in khaki shorts and sandals came up to her.  He kissed her on the cheek and asked about her trip.

“Long and crowded” she answered, “I’m exhausted.  And I can’t believe this stifling heat!  How do you stand it?”

“You will get used to it.”

“And the smell?”

“You will get used to that, too”,  he said, laughing.

Chapter 2

She hadn’t seen her brother in two years.  He looked well.  Tan and thin.  He was a little taller than she was but not much.  They shared the same brown eyes but he had lighter hair.  Maybe from the sun.

Ned was living in the bush, working on some contract related to the US Embassy.  He was probably some kind of spy.  She didn’t really know what he was doing.  But he seemed to like it.

They piled into his rugged white Peugeot sedan and headed off into nightmare traffic.  It took them five hours to reach their destination, a large village north of the city.  It was crowded and dirty and smelly but she was glad to finally arrive and unwind with a glass of wine on the porch.  Her time was so messed up she couldn’t really think.  She just went with the flow.

“Sorry but I’ve accepted an invitation for us to go out tonight.”

“What?”

“It’s the Christmas Pantomime and then a light supper at a friend’s house.  It will be fun.  You can sleep through the pantomime.”

“Fine.”

 

HaHa… I’ve got a long way to go… where will it take me?

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiring Blogs

So, not TOO long ago I was awarded an award….  the Inspiring Blog Award.

This came from Expatially Mexico, a German woman, married to a hotel manager, living on a beach in Mexico.  Can you imagine a better life?  She has a great sense of humor and appreciates her new surroundings.  You should check out her blog for sure.

I like awards for two reasons.  One, it brings out a more creative element where pretty much anything goes.  And Two, you meet the most interesting people!!

I back-tracked this award to see what “rules” there were and found all kinds of interesting people who don’t follow any rules.  Awesome!!

Check them out too…

Inspiring is the word of the this blog….  What inspires me, what inspires you.

I like this definition:   to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon (a person); animate or invigorate

Animate.  What Animates me?

Good wine

Heated conversation

Getting lost in any city

A good joke

And of course, Gertrude Stein, my personal word god.  From Patriarchal Poetry:

Let her be to be to be to be let her be to be to be let her to be let her to be let her be to be when it is that they are shy

Very well to try

Let her be that is to be let her be that is to be let her be let her try

Let her try

Let her be let her be let her be let her be to be to be let her be let her try

To be shy

Let her be

Let her try

Cheers to all of you.  And here are a few you I will pass the baton to in case they feel inspired:

Dounia

Valerie Davies

A Chip Off the Old Blog

A Moving Story

Clearing Customs

Ha!  That should keep you busy for a while!

Happy Inspirations!

My First Review!

 

 

 

 

A huge thank you to Linda at Adventures in Expat Land for taking the time to read and review my book Expat Alien.

Riveting Expat Reading: Expat Alien

August 17, 2012 by LAJ

Last week I was away spending some well deserved time alone with Husband, Son and Daughter. After the hectic and emotionally draining summer we’ve had, it was nice to enjoy the sun, surf and sand on Captiva Island in southern Florida.

It was good for us to reconnect as a family, relaxing individually and collectively as one day slipped into the next. We also made sure to store up the sunlight for colder, darker days ahead back home in Nederland, but we needn’t address that at the moment.

One thing I did do while relaxing was to catch up on some expat reading.

Continue reading…

The Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alone, I am nothing.  I am made up of little pieces of the world.  Bits of many people and places.

When I was very little I lived in Burma and there was a small bridge not far from my house where I used to go play.  The whole world lived under that bridge and I controlled it.  I observed and reigned.  I never dared step in to that world, though.  It was too dangerous. I stayed on the outside with my nanny protecting me.

Writing a book is a gargantuan task.  It is one of the scariest things in the world.  Not only is there the fear of failure  –  “even if I do finish it, will anybody want to read it?”…. but, there is also the fear of losing a part of yourself.  Every writer must give a piece of themselves, a part of their soul.

Will it be enough?  Is it noteworthy?  Why is it necessary?  Somebody I know once told me it is a form of immortality.  All humans strive for immortality and writing is the way to achieve it.  Maybe.  But is that why we do it?   Really?

It might be a way to sort out all the things that get jumbled up in your brain.  People imagine stories and can’t stop thinking about them, or they have very intense experiences that need to be defused.  Maybe it is a form of therapy.  Maybe it is just a whim.

The only thing I ever really wanted to do was to write a book.  But I thought I would never be able to do it.  I was not a good writer.  I didn’t have any writing training.  I was sure to fail.  And yet, I started writing a journal just for myself.  I kept all my stories in my journal.  I rewrote them.  I expanded on them.  I wrote them again.  I read more books.  And then I decided, I would write my book.

Eighteen years ago I wrote my first draft.  Ha!  I read an article recently on how the more revisions you have the more you are apt to succeed.  I think I must have the most revisions ever.  This book and I have grown up together.  I have made peace with many things.  I have cried over many things.  I have been touched by many things.  I have learned many things.  And I have let go of many things.  It has grown and shrunk.  And I could probably go on revising it for many years to come.  But I will not.  It is done.

I am a Leo and August is my month.  Watch this space.

Writing

 

I managed to get my hands on a copy of Hidden Immigrants by Linda Bell.  Just leafing through it I came upon this paragraph.  It describes me at the moment.  Working away.

 

Of Careers and Goals

Andy

I basically left home when I was 16 by going to boarding school.  From a very young age I traveled a lot by myself.  That was good.  But it prepared me to deal with loneliness too, and do things on my own.  But that can be good.  For instance, writing a book is a very lonely experience.

Linda Bell,  Hidden Immigrants

Books

I stole these pictures and summaries from Amazon.  I know, shame on me.

I am currently searching for memoirs on Third Culture Kids/ Global Nomads/ Cross Culture Kids/ or whatever label you prefer.  I have found that there are quite a few Missionary Kids with books.  I find them compelling but I can’t always identify with them.

When I first discovered who I was and had my ‘aha’ moment (see About), I tried to find anything I could to read on the subject of Third Culture Kids.  At that time it was very limited.  This was in the mid-90’s and I was living in Moscow.  I didn’t have a library or a local English bookstore.  I trolled the internet and I found these two books:

Hidden Immigrants: Legacies of Growing Up Abroad

Linda Bell

Entering the foreign service in 1965 as a relatively new bride, the author accompanied her husband, Charles, on a 26 year odyssey that took her to Morocco, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Norway, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. Both Bell daughters were born in Africa and brought up in different parts of the world. This book is a story of their growing up in foreign lands.

Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing

Ruth Ellen van Reken

Born and raised in Nigeria as the daughter of American missionaries, at age 39 Ruth needed to understand why, despite a life filled with rich experiences, a meaningful spiritual component, and family and friends who loved her, she often battled a secret depression. Through the journaling that became this book, she discovered that the very goodness of her life kept her from dealing with some of the challenges that also come with a global lifestyle – the realities of chronic cycles of separation and loss, reentry, and questions of identity. How could there be any struggles when she loved her childhood world so much? As a way of examining this ‘other side’ of her story, Ruth’s began to write many letters home such as the girl known as Miss Question Box might have written. This book contains her story from ages six to thirty-nine. Today, in her mid-sixties, renowned internationally for her compassion, knowledge and insight into what it means to be a child growing up among worlds, van Reken, looks back over her life and adds a fascinating and reflective epilogue to a memoir that has already sold 32,000 copies and has helped and inspired its readers.

Letters Never Sent has just been re-released and I am told has additional information and photos.  They were both good books and I was happy to have found them.  It was the beginning of my education.

Several years later I met Ruth Van Reken at a Global Nomad conference and she signed my Third Culture Kids book written by her and David C Pollock.  Now that was a real eye opener!  It is kind of like the bible of TCK’s.

Now that I am working on my own memoir, I am searching for books to read.  Research!  So here is a list of books I have read, am reading, and want to read.

Do you know of any good memoirs?  I would love to know about them!!

BOOKS I HAVE READ

 

For The Souls and Soils of India

Helen C Maybury

Helen Maybury (ne Conser) was born in India in 1924 and attended two international schools in India, Kodaikanal and Woodstock, before coming to the United States for university studies in 1942. She has produced a heartwarming profile of her mother and father, two courageous individuals who were confirmed in their resolve to serve God and His people. In all, Helen’s parents spent 37 years in India, as well as 9 years in home missions in the United States after their retirement. Alongside the personal history, the letters tell the story of India during a time of tremendous upheaval and historical significance, as the country fought its way to independence. There are letters that tell of meetings with great leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave, the author of the land-gift or “sarvodaya” movement. A non-violent revolutionary in the tradition of Gandhi, he collected millions of acres of land to distribute to the landless. Helen’s parents were an American couple who clearly cared deeply for equality, human dignity and social justice.

In the small world department… This woman lives in my apartment complex and I found out about this book though our monthly newsletter.  When I told my parents about the book, they told me they know somebody in their apartment complex who went to school with Helen! –expat alien

Fly Away Home

Maggie Myklebust

‘Clean freak’ Maggie tries so hard to keep her life in order but is foiled at every turn. The descendent of second generation Norwegian immigrants to America, she grows up in New Jersey, spending her summer vacations on an idyllic island in Norway. Later, in the wake of an abusive marriage, she and her three young children leave America and return to the Nordic Island of her ancestors, where she rekindles a relationship with her childhood sweetheart. Pulled between two worlds, her life continues as she seeks meaning, identity and happiness. With her true love by her side and three more children to care for, Maggie discovers her traveling days are far from over. Life’s unexpected twists see her return to America before being catapulted to the Netherlands. At last she can begin to make sense of her experiences until, that is, she is on the move again. In the process she learns that life comes full circle, from the hopes and dreams of her forebears to the place where she can finally find peace and come to terms with her past. Follow this Jersey girl as she flies back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean looking for love and a place to call home.

See my blog about this at A Good Read –expat alien

Expat Life Slice by Slice

by Apple Gidley

From marauding monkeys to strange men in her bedroom, from Africa to Australasia to America, with stops in Melanesia, the Caribbean and Europe along the way, Apple Gidley vividly sketches her itinerant global life. The challenges of expatriation, whether finding a home, a job, or a school are faced mostly with equanimity. Touched with humour and pathos, places come alive with stories of people met and cultures learned, with a few foreign faux pas added to the mix.

This has some good insight and lessons learned –expat alien

Home Keeps Moving

Heidi Sand-Hart

Home Keeps Moving follows Heidi and her missionary family on their many moves through the eyes of a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and the unique phenomena of having four very different home countries to relate to. It tells the true story of being catapulted from continent to continent constantly: leaving friends and starting all over again, her unquenchable search for a home and sense of belonging in this world, her desire for a life-partner with the odds all but against her due to constantly relocating (even into adulthood). You will laugh and cry along with Heidi as she recounts hilarious and heart-breaking tales from her childhood as West blends with East.

That is the true beauty of Heidi s upbringing, it crossed borders and defied logic but she lacked for nothing.

This is a very short MK book that touches on some important points.  It also incorporates other people’s experiences so gives more than one perspective. –expat alien

Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global

Faith Eidse, Nina Sichel

A fusion of voices and deeply personal experiences from every corner of the globe, Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global presents a cultural mosaic of today’s citizens of the world. Twenty stirring memoirs of childhoods spent packing, written by both world-famous and first-time authors, make the story of growing up displaced feel universal. Best-selling fiction and non-fiction authors Isabel Allende, Carlos Fuentes, Pat Conroy, Pico Iyer and Ariel Dorfman contribute powerful and deeply personal accounts of mobile childhoods and the cultural experiences they engender. The memoirs touch on the opportunities and difficulties of growing up in the ever-changing landscape of expatriate communities.

NOW READING

Potato In A Rice Bowl

Peggy Keener

In the memoir Potato in a Rice Bowl, Peggy Keener shares her wacky misadventures as a sincere-though misguided-Minnesota housewife struggling to create normalcy for her family while living in Japan during the 1960s. Through charming vignettes, Peggy takes a look back at her bewildering foray into the Japanese culture after her husband accepts a military assignment in a country thousands of miles away from the small prairie town of Austin, Minnesota, where she was born and raised. The mother of three boys, Peggy chronicles how she managed to settle her disoriented family and flounce headfirst into the thorny, baffling culture while her husband was miles away on military missions. As she bungles through her boys’ Japanese school, grapples with the eccentricities of her home and neighbors, and reconstructs the language to her liking, she somehow ends up as a personality on Japanese national television-all with the earnest hope of melding with her new country. In this humorous, irreverent, and even soul-searching collection of anecdotes, Peggy provides an entertaining glimpse into the enigmatic Land of the Rising Sun.

Voluntary Nomads: A Mother’s Memories of Foreign Service Family Life

Nancy Pogue LaTurner

Nancy LaTurner’s engaging memoir begins in 1974 as her young family struggles without a livelihood in rural New Mexico. When a welcome stroke of luck lands her husband Fred a job with the State Department, Nancy eagerly packs their few belongings and bundles up their 20-month-old son and 12-month-old daughter for the journey from Los Lunas, New Mexico to Washington, DC and onward to any of the 200 U.S. Embassies around the world. 

Empowered by Nancy’s enthusiasm and Fred’s optimism, the naive little family embraces their first assignment in Tehran during the final days of the Shah’s regime. Dropped straight into a different culture and language in a country suffering the turmoil of revolutionary unrest, the LaTurners learn how important adaptability is to their new way of life.

Throughout Voluntary Nomads, Nancy’s recollection of raising two children in extraordinary conditions demonstrates that the triumphs and heartaches of family life go on, no matter how exotic the locations or unique the experiences. Nancy’s stories of Foreign Service family adventures in Iran, Cameroon, New Zealand, Somalia, Dominican Republic, Austria, and Bolivia, told with warmth, insight and candor, celebrate the resilience and resourcefulness of a spirited American family.

Ride the Wings of Morning

Sophie Neville

A conventional English girl arrived in South Africa, to help a friend run horseback safaris on a game reserve in the Northern Transvaal.

It was 1992. There were yellow road signs declaring “Dit is die Volkstaat”.

Sophie had heard of “biltong” but knew nothing of Afrikaans culture. She was aware of poachers, but not of the danger of sausage trees. Nor how to cook a gemsquash on the campfire without causing an explosion. She understood there were rhino on the reserve, but not that she would end up working as the safari guide. In the dark. On a stallion. Lost. With completely innocent tourists on other horses.

This upbeat true story, the sequel to her book ‘Funnily Enough’, is told through correspondence sent back and forth between Sophie Neville and her family in England.

ON MY LIST

Overseas American: Growing Up Gringo in the Tropics

by Gene H. Bell-Villada

Born in 1941 of a Hawaiian mother and a white father, Gene H. Bell-Villada, grew up an overseas American citizen. An outsider wherever he landed, he never had a ready answer to the innocuous question “Where are you from?”

By the time Bell-Villada was a teenager, he had lived in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Cuba. Though English was his first language, his claim on U.S. citizenship was a hollow one. All he knew of his purported “homeland” was gleaned from imported comic books and movies. He spoke Spanish fluently, but he never fully fit into the culture of the Latin American countries where he grew up.

In childhood, he attended an American Catholic school for Puerto Ricans in San Juan, longing all the while to convert from Episcopalianism so that he could better fit in. Later at a Cuban military school during the height of the Batista dictatorship, he witnessed fervent political debates among the cadets about Fidel Castro’s nascent revolution and U.S. foreign policy. His times at the American School in Caracas, Venezuela, are tinged with reminiscences of oil booms and fights between U.S. and Venezuelan teen gangs.

At Home Abroad: An American Girl in Africa

Nancy Henderson-James

At Home Abroad is a stunning autobiography of Nancy Henderson-James’s youth in Africa. Heart-wrenching is her uprooting at age 15 when the war for independence began, from Angola, whose natural world, people, customs, languages she so loved. Nancy bravely and articulately recounts a true saga of personal loss and bereavement. But out of the crucible of conflicts between herself and her parents, the Africa she loved and the America from which she felt estranged, comes crystalline strength, confidence, humor, and self-knowledge. Her journey to wholeness, with its exquisite analysis and detail, enlightens us, so that we, too, see our own lives with new understanding and compassion and recognize better our place in the 21st century as citizens of the world.

Judy Hogan, Founding Editor of Carolina Wren Press, 1976-91.