Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

A Very Dark Joke; not for the squeamish

Thank you, KitKat, for this very dark Alaska joke:

Tale form Alaska (where life is tough & humor is dark )

The day after his wife disappeared in a kayaking accident, an Anchorage man
answered his door to find two grim-faced Alaska State Troopers…”We’re
sorry Mr. Wilkens, but we have some information about your wife,” said one
trooper. “Tell me! Did you find her?” Wilkens shouted.

The troopers looked at each other. One said, “We have some bad news, some
good news, & some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”
Fearing the worst, an ashen Mr. Wilkens said, “Give me the bad news first.”
The trooper said, “I’m sorry to tell you, sir, but this morning we found
your wife’s body in Kachemak Bay .”

“Oh no!” exclaimed Wilkens. Swallowing hard, he asked, “What’s the good

The trooper continued, “When we pulled her up, she had a dozen 25 pound
king crabs & 6 good-size Dungeness crabs clinging to her, & we feel you are
entitled to a share in the catch.”

Stunned, Mr. Wilkens demanded, “If that’s the good news, what’s the great news?” The trooper said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow.”

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Alaska, Humor | 2 Comments

The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans

When I wrote up this book for another site, I could not even remember the main character’s name. (Ellen Gowan) I found the book annoying, and most of the time, when a book annoys me, I don’t even tell you about it, I just don’t bother reviewing it at all.

I find the plot thin. I find the characters unmotivated. I find many of the choices of the characters unbelievable. We haven’t been given enough back-story to make the characters truly live.

Ellen has a real streak of bad luck. On her 13th birthday, a well-born young man gets fresh with her and in rural Victorian England, it becomes her problem – her reputation is damaged by a callow young man from a wealthy family. On the same day, an earthquake strikes her village, killing her father, and she and her mother subsequently lose their home.

They take up residence with Ellen’s aunt, her mother’s sister, and it is a happy time, all except for her aunt’s husband, a cruel man who isolates and beats his wife, who can do nothing about it. A wife is property. Her marriage was arranged; she has no where to go if she were to leave. She works hard at keeping her husband happy, so he won’t beat her or take it out on anyone she loves.

When you are dealing with an abusive manipulator, however, there is no pleasing, right? Ellen and her mother are thrown out, but also thrown a lifeline, and take up residence with a dressmaker, where Ellen hones and develops a talent for costume design (meaning evening dress, calling clothes, mourning clothes – wealthy Victorian women had huge wardrobes of ever-changing fashionable clothes.)

Ellen makes some really bad choices – in my opinion. I’m not going to tell you what those choices are, because I don’t want to give you too much of the story, in case you want to read it yourself.

Long story short, she ends up a very successful fashion designer/producer in London, only to face ruinous blackmail because of her past.

OK, here is what I really liked about the book. While I found the characters, descriptions, plotlines and dialogues pretty awful, I loved reading about the fashions, and I found reading about the social status of women – not all that long ago – where women in England had few choices and fewer opportunities – fascinating. I have friends in Kuwait and Qatar who face some of the same limitations. How soon we forget; it wasn’t that long ago that we faced the same challenges, the same limitations.

The freedom to live on our own. The freedom to earn and manage our own money. The rights to our children. All these issues are fresh in The Dressmaker, and too easily taken for granted in our own.

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Books, Cultural, Family Issues, Fiction, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Ash Wednesday in Pensacola 2011

Luke 18:9-14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” 13But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’

(From the Lectionary readings for today)

“I forgot to set my alarm” AdventureMan said, coming down the stairs, “we missed the first service.”

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day Lent begins for Christians. We go to church, the priest puts a cross on our forehead in ash, to remind us “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”, that our life here on earth is only temporary, and that our true home is heaven.

It’s easier to believe that in your gut when you are an expat.

My cousin wrote to me, and in his email, he wrote that I write about my own culture the same way I wrote about Germany, about Qatar, about Kuwait – as an expat, as an outside observer. Pensacola is like my foreign assignments; I could live here for twenty years (God willing) and I will never be a native, I will always be from somewhere else, the kind of person about whom others will say “she must not be from around here.” I am guessing I will get more comfortable, more confident, but I will always be not-quite-right among the natives.

And that is how we are supposed to be living here on earth – as people not-quite-right, as people eager to return to our true heavenly home.

Lent in my own country is odd to me, now. In a foreign country, you are accustomed to thinking of yourself as a minority; your differentness makes you more aware or who you are, and what you value. There is a part of me that thinks Lent would be a lot easier if, like Qatar, and like Kuwait, and like Saudi Arabia, religious practices were state enforced, like everyone in the USA fasted at the same time, maybe nobody would sell meat or chocolate or alcohol. And then, I think “but what is the point?” The point is our own sacrifice. Is it a sacrifice if it is enforced from the outside?

I can’t sacrifice cussing in traffic this year. Pensacola traffic, by the grace of God, is nearly non-existent, and it is mellow. I’m not even tempted. I’m trying to figure out what I will sacrifice.

Father Neal Goldsborough at Christ Church Episcopal told us on Sunday how all the children come in from the Episcopal Day School to have the ashes imposed, and how poignant it is for him, and I can’t help but think of all the soldiers he has been with at their death, mere children, children of God, and how he must see the faces of these soldiers in the faces of these tiny children. My heart would weep, even knowing they are on their way home.

March 9, 2011 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Germany, Kuwait, Lent, Living Conditions, Middle East, Pensacola, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spiritual, Values | Leave a comment