New kids on the blog: A fun part of NaBloPoMo is making a daily cruise of the NaBloPoMo November blog roll to find new web sites to read. One interesting blog I found this year is called In An Opal-Hearted Country and is written by an American expat living in Australia who signs her posts, “C. in Oz.” In her recent entry, Mr. Ed and Other Things I Learned From the Melbourne Cup, C. discusses how living in another country has made her think about the concept of culture.
After hearing Christian Lander from Stuff White People Like speak, C. relates that:”Lander’s talk got me into all sorts of an identity crisis.” She began thinking about how so many people: “have been attempting to co-opt little pieces of every mildly exotic culture of the world in order to make up for their own lack of culture.” She also realizes that being an expat often brings these sorts of questions to the forefront, writing: “Well, being removed from my own country does occasionally give me a glimpse into what exactly makes up culture.”
C. ends her post with the following conclusion:
“And it is at that point that I know that, whether I want it to be or not, my culture is inclusive of Thanksgiving. The Fourth of July. The Super Bowl. The Academy Awards. Presidential inaugurations. Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash – and yes, Chef Boyardee and Mr. Ed. My culture is comprised of the things about which I share a vocabulary with my countrymen and have a sometimes inexplicable emotional impact. I can sample from other cultures as much as I want, but I can never co-opt someone else’s culture. It’s a complex revelation for an expat – I’m happy to know that I do have a culture, but also a little conflicted to know that I will never really understand the Melbourne Cup.”
These quotes don’t do her post justice. I’ve left out all the amusing anecdotes, so go read the whole thing if the concept intrigues you. (As an aside, I love the fascinators the ladies wear in their hair in one of the photos accompanying her post. My friend, Sierra, makes beautiful feather fascinators and other great hair decorations. Sierra, if you’re out there, you need a website for your lovely wares. I’ll plug you on my blog!)
Have you ever bumped into your own cultural assumptions while traveling or living overseas? I know I have! And not just when living overseas. I’ve had quite a few moments of cultural dissonance since moving to the state of Texas. Sure, it’s America, but as the state tourism slogan goes, “Texas, it’s like a whole other country.” I thoroughly agree.
In keeping with the topic, today’s top photo depicts Big Tex. Who is that, you ask? You’re not from around here, are you? Everyone in north Texas knows Big Tex, the 52 foot tall cowboy who stands at the entrance to the State Fair of Texas every year in his product placement garb. No one I’ve asked, however, can explain his odd stance. To me, he appears to be offering his veins to a phlebotomist, ready for a blood draw. Even so, everyone tells me that he’s always stood that way. (Actually, Big Tex looks pretty normal in this photo. If you ever see him in person, you will know what I mean about his arms.)
You know, I bet I could come up with a fairly comprehensive “Stuff Texans Like” list now that I’ve been here a while. At the very least, it could be good fodder for another post.