Of Guns, Manhunts, and Other American Pursuits

Most expats will agree that the best time to tell people about another country is during the first few months you've moved there, when your capacity to see the new and different is the greatest and the freshness hasn't worn off. It's no different when you're moving back home. If not exactly new, everything still registers as different from before.


You Expect ME to do THAT?

It was early days after our move to Tennessee. My car ran out of gas and I needed to get more. I dropped the kids off at school, consulted my GPS for the closest gas station, and a few minutes later pulled up at the pump in the pouring rain. And then I sat there, checking emails on my phone, and waiting for something to happen. Except nothing did happen.


The Expat Worshipper, Part Two (Or: A Christian Owned Business)

Calling myself a “Respect for others and nature, golden-rule driven, don’t think I have all the answers and always curious about other people’s beliefs, suspicious of all religious dogma but love some rituals nonetheless, a heavy dose of doubt about the so-called word of god, all with a sprinkling of Buddhism” person just won’t do. Not in "Christian" Middle Tennessee.


The Expat Worshipper

If you're arriving on America's shores in a place like New York City, you might be forgiven for not noticing. But if your destination is a place like Tennessee, you will know at once: The USA is Christian country. There are more churches here per square foot than any other institution. You cannot drive for more than a few hundred yards before rounding on a church.


Your Child Will Need to Purchase Valentines

This post is a bit behind the times, seeing as we’re already heading full-steam towards Easter, but I thought I’d post it anyway in the category of cultural differences.

 We’ve been back in the U.S. for less than a month, and already that dreaded oh-so-American letter has come home from school:

Dear Parents,
Our Valentine Party will be Feb. 14 at 2:00-3:00. The class will be exchanging valentines. ... 


We Should Have Dinner Sometime

As I’ve observed earlier in Hello America, this is a friendly place.

Americans are incredibly welcoming towards newcomers, whether from within the country or from abroad. If you’ve listened to the political news coverage, you might not believe it, but what the people in Washington or in some state capitols say has usually nothing to do with the average person ... 


Natural Disaster, Part II (Or: Tornadoes and the shame of being found dead in your basement with a bike helmet on)

As I was telling you in my previous post, we recently found ourselves huddled under blankets in our basement at 3:30 in the morning, just three weeks after our move back to the United States.

A “safe” country, right? I mean, we were coming from South Africa, of all places. Johannesburg, specifically. Which, prior to moving there three years ago, we had been told was most likely the most dangerous place on Earth.

The scene on our deck after Hurricane Fran in 1996

No one tells you that about Brentwood, Tennessee.

“What the ... 


Hello America

If you are an expat blogger, it is all about first impressions. Your best assessment of a new country comes right in those first few weeks of moving there, when everything you encounter strikes you as new or quirky or bizarre, if not completely alien. You look at the world around you in wonder, mouth ... 


Home Leave

I just thought I’d drop a few lines to tell you I haven’t vanished from the face of the Earth, but my family and I are on home leave in the U.S., enjoying a hot and humid summer and the company of good old friends. South Africa seems far, far away. But I do miss it. I miss the cool crisp ...