Ring my bell: finding resonance with hybrid creatives

56 comments

in ANASTASIA ASHMAN,culture,friendship,harem,hybrid ambassadors,identity,society,women

Orchid by A.Ashman

By ANASTASIA ASHMAN

A live-recorded call in the Dialogue2010 series left me reeling. Ten women scattered in Turkey, the Czech Republic, Italy and four U.S. states came together to discuss mapping the hybrid life, moderated by Rose Deniz.

The hour was early for those of us in Europe and Asia so we could catch the late night callers in Washington and California — but that’s not the reason for the ringing in my ears.

The 90-minute talk, touching on what we hold on to and what we leave behind and the qualities we rely on to live in several different worlds at once, was so resonant it felt like being part of a carillon.

Bells were going off with each speaker’s comment, one percussion setting off the next.

We represented wildly different notes: a Third Culture Kid with a parent in the United Nations who grew up on airplanes, the daughter of Turkish emigrants in New York who was thrilled to start school and join a wider community, a Dutchwoman grappling with a new size of the world in the Pacific Northwest, an American who suspected she was destined for something far outside of her Midwestern suburbia but didn’t know exactly what until she went to China.

A surprise chord struck during the call: we all write and do other creative work, and everyone credited this self-expression as a survival tool, a way to process the high-definition drama of hybrid life.

I wonder about this breed of kindred spirits: were we born with some kind of hybrid gene? Obviously predisposed to compassion for other cultures like the Turkish emigrant, or more subtly drawn to the exotic like the suburban Midwesterner?

What comes first, the hybrid self or the hybrid life? Are our most resonant peers made or born?
+++++
Anastasia Ashman is a California-born writer/producer of neoculture entertainment based in Istanbul. This series covers what’s crossing the mind and desk of expat+HAREM’s founder.
+++++

  • Pingback: Get creative about your place in the world: how to operate on a micro-yet-global level with a Global Niche

  • http://smondo.blogspot.com SilvanaMondo

    Fascinating reading all the comments up to today. It is roughly the text of conversations I have in my head with the mysterious ‘other’ me without the clear cut definitions and beautifully coined words. Thank you.

  • http://about.me/anastasia.ashman Anastasia

    A year later, many of us meet face to face for the first time, at the Hybrid Ambassadors barbecue in Istanbul! See images here and here and here.

  • http://www.retaggr.com/Card/AnastasiaAshman Anastasia M. Ashman

    In this new post Sezin Koehler writes about hybrids born in homogeneous situations….

    …a quirk of social genetics, hybrids born in the wild!

    Since I grew up in a mixed ethnicity family in the cultural melting pot of the San Francisco Bay Area, I’d have to say I’m a cultivated hybrid.

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    In this new post Sezin Koehler writes about hybrids born in homogeneous situations….

    …a quirk of social genetics, hybrids born in the wild!

    Since I grew up in a mixed ethnicity family in the cultural melting pot of the San Francisco Bay Area, I’d have to say I’m a cultivated hybrid.

  • http://www.retaggr.com/Card/AnastasiaAshman Anastasia M. Ashman

    Hi Kelly, good to see you here. Re-reading the comments I see this more comfortable way of being out of synch is, as Rose calls it, “a cultivated mis-syncopation”.

    Along the lines of expatriatism/global nomadism and its intersection with creativity: this article notes that for highly sensitive people, creativity is a way to address overwhelm — and how creatives perceive the world more vividly (a description several of the Dialogue2010 participants used to capture the hybrid life itself).

    It was interesting that Pearl S. Buck is quoted in the piece, an American writer living in China.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      Thanks for this link Anastasia – relates quite a lot to my chaotic, creative life. I found that Buck quote compelling as well in my latest Tales from Turkey post, after our Dialogue 2010, especially since one participant, Jocelyn is our modern-day version of the American with Chinese ties.

      • Anastasia M. Ashman

        Yes Catherine! You’re right, you just pointed out the Buck quote this week…for some reason her expatriatism didn’t strike home at first. Fascinated by all of these synchronous revelations: hybrid self, hybrid life, creative, highly sensitive.

    • http://www.rosedeniz.blogspot.com Rose

      How great that you mention The Highly Sensitive Person, Anastasia! Elaine Aron’s book is still a bedside companion of mine. I first read it in graduate school thanks to the suggestion of a friend who enlightened me to the idea that there was a real thing called HSP. Identifying with having a hybrid identity makes dealing with oversensitivity easier, and relaxes other definitions I might have stacked up for myself over the years. As I explained to someone in Italy this past weekend at the Women and Work conference I attended, having a hybrid identity, rather than being defining, allows for many definitions.

      • http://www.retaggr.com/Card/AnastasiaAshman Anastasia M. Ashman

        By following Douglas Eby (@talentdevelop on Twitter), a writer on the psychology of creativity and personal growth, I have started to learn more about #HSP…and identify with much of it.

        Must borrow Aron’s book.

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    Hi Kelly, good to see you here. Re-reading the comments I see this more comfortable way of being out of synch is, as Rose calls it, “a cultivated mis-syncopation”.

    Along the lines of expatriatism/global nomadism and its intersection with creativity: this article notes that for highly sensitive people, creativity is a way to address overwhelm — and how creatives perceive the world more vividly (a description several of the Dialogue2010 participants used to capture the hybrid life itself).

    It was interesting that Pearl S. Buck is quoted in the piece, an American writer living in China.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      Thanks for this link Anastasia – relates quite a lot to my chaotic, creative life. I found that Buck quote compelling as well in my latest Tales from Turkey post, after our Dialogue 2010, especially since one participant, Jocelyn is our modern-day version of the American with Chinese ties.

      • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

        Yes Catherine! You’re right, you just pointed out the Buck quote this week…for some reason her expatriatism didn’t strike home at first. Fascinated by all of these synchronous revelations: hybrid self, hybrid life, creative, highly sensitive.

    • Anonymous

      How great that you mention The Highly Sensitive Person, Anastasia! Elaine Aron’s book is still a bedside companion of mine. I first read it in graduate school thanks to the suggestion of a friend who enlightened me to the idea that there was a real thing called HSP. Identifying with having a hybrid identity makes dealing with oversensitivity easier, and relaxes other definitions I might have stacked up for myself over the years. As I explained to someone in Italy this past weekend at the Women and Work conference I attended, having a hybrid identity, rather than being defining, allows for many definitions.

      • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

        By following Douglas Eby (@talentdevelop on Twitter), a writer on the psychology of creativity and personal growth, I have started to learn more about #HSP…and identify with much of it.

        Must borrow Aron’s book.

  • TheCreativeUrge

    Very thought provoking point Anastasia re removing the ambiguity about not fitting in. At “home” I often felt like I didn’t get it (what/why people did and were motivated by the things they were), but as an expat I can say, “of COURSE I don’t fit, I’m a foreigner!” I find it very liberating and feel I am able to be more of myself here.

  • TheCreativeUrge

    Very thought provoking point Anastasia re removing the ambiguity about not fitting in. At “home” I often felt like I didn’t get it (what/why people did and were motivated by the things they were), but as an expat I can say, “of COURSE I don’t fit, I’m a foreigner!” I find it very liberating and feel I am able to be more of myself here.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/tara.agacayak Tara

    The mother of my best friend growing up was a tall, lanky blonde woman who always had some kind of creative project she was working on. When we were in high school she went back to college to study Chinese and went on to buy an apartment in China where she visited four times a year. She told me that all her life she always felt like an outsider. As a tall, lanky blonde woman she sure stood out in China, but at least it was a natural kind of outsidedness and she claimed she didn’t feel awkward there. She had found the place where her outsiderness made her fit in.

    I’m with you Catherine – I know lots of expats, but the ones I connect with best are the ones working on creative pursuits. In fact, I never thought of myself as an expat until recently. I always just considered myself an American woman who married a Turk who happens to live in Turkey.

    A big shift for me came when I realized that I thrive around creative people – maybe we just had to become expats to recognize this aspect of ourselves?? At least I did.

    • http://www.retaggr.com/Card/AnastasiaAshman Anastasia M. Ashman

      Thanks Tara. Your friend’s mother: removing the ambiguity about why she didn’t fit in (it was because she was tall and blonde and American! nothing about her inner world, that remained sacrosanct)….this makes a lot of sense to me. She simplified the situation, and in doing so, her differentness felt acceptable — for the first time, to her.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/tara.agacayak Tara

    The mother of my best friend growing up was a tall, lanky blonde woman who always had some kind of creative project she was working on. When we were in high school she went back to college to study Chinese and went on to buy an apartment in China where she visited four times a year. She told me that all her life she always felt like an outsider. As a tall, lanky blonde woman she sure stood out in China, but at least it was a natural kind of outsidedness and she claimed she didn’t feel awkward there. She had found the place where her outsiderness made her fit in.

    I’m with you Catherine – I know lots of expats, but the ones I connect with best are the ones working on creative pursuits. In fact, I never thought of myself as an expat until recently. I always just considered myself an American woman who married a Turk who happens to live in Turkey.

    A big shift for me came when I realized that I thrive around creative people – maybe we just had to become expats to recognize this aspect of ourselves?? At least I did.

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      Thanks Tara. Your friend’s mother: removing the ambiguity about why she didn’t fit in (it was because she was tall and blonde and American! nothing about her inner world, that remained sacrosanct)….this makes a lot of sense to me. She simplified the situation, and in doing so, her differentness felt acceptable — for the first time, to her.

  • http://www.retaggr.com/Card/AnastasiaAshman Anastasia M. Ashman

    Oh my goodness you’re all way ahead of me. How is it that March is only 4 days old but I’m already 2 weeks behind? So much energy unleashed by that call on the last day of February….

    Thanks Judith, Rose, Sezin, Catherine Yigit and Catherine Bayar, Tara, Hilda and Isao, for your thoughts.

    We’re continuing the conversation both on Twitter with the #Dialogue2010 hashtag, and you can view both the Tweetstream and related blog posts most easily at this new Squidoo lens.

    Or, at this makeshift Facebook page (which we might build into something more substantial in the future).

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    Oh my goodness you’re all way ahead of me. How is it that March is only 4 days old but I’m already 2 weeks behind? So much energy unleashed by that call on the last day of February….

    Thanks Judith, Rose, Sezin, Catherine Yigit and Catherine Bayar, Tara, Hilda and Isao, for your thoughts.

    We’re continuing the conversation both on Twitter with the #Dialogue2010 hashtag, and you can view both the Tweetstream and related blog posts most easily at this new Squidoo lens.

    Or, at this makeshift Facebook page (which we might build into something more substantial in the future).

  • Pingback: Intimate Strangers | www.Sezin.org

  • http://skaiangates.blogspot.com/ Catherine Yiğit

    I love the image of the carillon where we each ring with our own frequency yet produce a harmonious music together.

    Which comes first, hybrid self or life?

    Tough question. I’ve always been attracted to travel, always looked outside of home. Of my siblings one lives outside of Ireland, the other firmly at home. My mother would travel anywhere in a heartbeat, my father takes persuading.

    On being creative, in my case that came later. It is a side of myself that I’ve only just started embracing. Was it always there? Probably but it was latent.

    Whatever came first, the chicken or the egg, they have both become a centre that I orbit around

  • http://www.skaiangates.com Yazarc

    I love the image of the carillon where we each ring with our own frequency yet produce a harmonious music together.

    Which comes first, hybrid self or life?

    Tough question. I’ve always been attracted to travel, always looked outside of home. Of my siblings one lives outside of Ireland, the other firmly at home. My mother would travel anywhere in a heartbeat, my father takes persuading.

    On being creative, in my case that came later. It is a side of myself that I’ve only just started embracing. Was it always there? Probably but it was latent.

    Whatever came first, the chicken or the egg, they have both become a centre that I orbit around

  • http://isaokato.com Isao

    In my case, the hybrid life came first, then later I realized I became hybrid as a person, like, for good. Because of that hybrid experience? Probably. The interesting thing is, the hybrid experience is getting larger inside me as I become more conscious of who I am and want to be.

    • Anastasia M. Ashman

      Yes Isao, I feel this growing sense of my hybridity as well…in fact, embracing it is a source of relief!

  • http://isaokato.com Isao

    In my case, the hybrid life came first, then later I realized I became hybrid as a person, like, for good. Because of that hybrid experience? Probably. The interesting thing is, the hybrid experience is getting larger inside me as I become more conscious of who I am and want to be.

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      Yes Isao, I feel this growing sense of my hybridity as well…in fact, embracing it is a source of relief!

  • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

    Where does creativity come from, and are we grateful for the connections it brings, the directions it points us?
    http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

    Where does creativity come from, and are we grateful for the connections it brings, the directions it points us?
    http://bazaarbayar.blogspot.com/

  • http://saffronandblueberry.blogspot.com Hilda

    I think being creative gives you context, which is something that is not evident to have when you’re an expat or someone who moves often from one very different place to another. It’s your world so you create the rules by which it exists, which creates your own context in a way.

    • Anastasia M. Ashman

      I love this formulation Hilda. That is exactly what our creativity does for us — it makes sense of how we can be who we are, where we are, how we can bring along with us all these influences, how we can live in many places and in many ways at once.

  • http://saffronandblueberry.blogspot.com Hilda

    I think being creative gives you context, which is something that is not evident to have when you’re an expat or someone who moves often from one very different place to another. It’s your world so you create the rules by which it exists, which creates your own context in a way.

    • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

      I love this formulation Hilda. That is exactly what our creativity does for us — it makes sense of how we can be who we are, where we are, how we can bring along with us all these influences, how we can live in many places and in many ways at once.

  • http://www.rosedeniz.blogspot.com Rose

    It would seem my life unlikely for hybridity – Midwestern upbringing, but like Jocelyn finding her voice in China, I always felt one step out of sync. Some circumstances, the loss of my mother at a young age, multiple moves while in grade school, must have been influential in shaping my own notion of a hybrid self. As an adult now abroad, I still feel out of sync, but it’s a cultivated mis-syncopation. Like Judith says, maybe it’s in the stars. It was an honor to moderate Dialogue2010 and to hear the voices of 9 women honoring the hybrid self and life. Thank you Anastasia, for helping bring it to life.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

      I love that phrase, Rose – a “cultivated mis-syncopation”. By the time I was an adult, I too learned to value being out of sync.

      I think Judith may be right – we were all born under a wandering star. Otherwise, how do you explain why my siblings do not travel, when we all had the same childhood roadtrips? Why was I thrilled and not petrified at the age of 14 to fly alone with a friend my age to Britain and travel for a summer largely on our own?

      I must have been born this way, just like I was born to create, and born to be curious about the world.

  • Anonymous

    It would seem my life unlikely for hybridity – Midwestern upbringing, but like Jocelyn finding her voice in China, I always felt one step out of sync. Some circumstances, the loss of my mother at a young age, multiple moves while in grade school, must have been influential in shaping my own notion of a hybrid self. As an adult now abroad, I still feel out of sync, but it’s a cultivated mis-syncopation. Like Judith says, maybe it’s in the stars. It was an honor to moderate Dialogue2010 and to hear the voices of 9 women honoring the hybrid self and life. Thank you Anastasia, for helping bring it to life.

    • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

      I love that phrase, Rose – a “cultivated mis-syncopation”. By the time I was an adult, I too learned to value being out of sync.

      I think Judith may be right – we were all born under a wandering star. Otherwise, how do you explain why my siblings do not travel, when we all had the same childhood roadtrips? Why was I thrilled and not petrified at the age of 14 to fly alone with a friend my age to Britain and travel for a summer largely on our own?

      I must have been born this way, just like I was born to create, and born to be curious about the world.

  • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

    Oh, Anastasia, what you write about dialoge2010 rings true for me as well. I’ve felt invigorated by our global conference, by hearing the voices of those I’d been following in print, and I feel inspired by a sense of connectedness.

    As for your question Salonista, there’s no easy —not one— answer. For me the old adage “birds of a feather flock together” covered the reason for the gathering of multi-colored, multi-cultural, multinational creatives. Many of whom were expats, or people of the traveling kind.
    Just yesterday I learned that 49.95% of inhabitants of the city of Amsterdam were either born abroad or have at least one parent who was. When I lived and worked in Amsterdam myself most everyone I knew was involved in the Arts and many were/are what I now understand to be hybrids.
    If I were an astrologist and fluid in the jargon, I’d dare say something about the rising of stars at the moment of birth.

    All this said, I know too many people whose steps to become an artist or globetrotter came as a big surprise to their family to dare say there’s a genetic impulse, but I do believe there’s a seed in the essence of our being that enables us to move away from the familiar hearth.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, Anastasia, what you write about dialoge2010 rings true for me as well. I’ve felt invigorated by our global conference, by hearing the voices of those I’d been following in print, and I feel inspired by a sense of connectedness.

    As for your question Salonista, there’s no easy —not one— answer. For me the old adage “birds of a feather flock together” covered the reason for the gathering of multi-colored, multi-cultural, multinational creatives. Many of whom were expats, or people of the traveling kind.
    Just yesterday I learned that 49.95% of inhabitants of the city of Amsterdam were either born abroad or have at least one parent who was. When I lived and worked in Amsterdam myself most everyone I knew was involved in the Arts and many were/are what I now understand to be hybrids.
    If I were an astrologist and fluid in the jargon, I’d dare say something about the rising of stars at the moment of birth.

    All this said, I know too many people whose steps to become an artist or globetrotter came as a big surprise to their family to dare say there’s a genetic impulse, but I do believe there’s a seed in the essence of our being that enables us to move away from the familiar hearth.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/tara.agacayak Tara

    I don’t believe in the kind of destiny where we don’t have a choice about where we end up, but I do think that we have little voices inside that compel us to travel in certain directions that are inevitable.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much I have in common with other expat friends I’ve made – look how many writers there are for example.

    It does bring up the classic nature/nurture question – which influences the other? I don’t know if I can answer that, but it’s fun to think about.

    We learn a little bit more about ourselves when we see where our paths cross, don’t we?

    • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

      Tara,
      One of the revelations I had after the inaugural session of dialogue2010 was how connected I felt to you all, and I do believe it’s the fact that we are creative people that makes such —linking in— possible. Creative intercourse is what I crave and need.
      The reasons that bring us to a given foreign place may not have anything to do with the arts, but creativity is necessary to make survival possible.
      Creativity is a wide notion, one doesn’t necessarily need to create “art” (with caps or l.c.). But the art of bringing people together may lead to an artistic or at least creative (ad)venture.

      I don’t necessarily feel connected with expats in general —sharing the colors of a flag is not what makes a bird colorful— but I often do with those who are creative(s).

      • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

        Oops, I wonder whether I put my foot in your mouth again (pun intended) by writing “creative intercourse” usually I say “intellectual intercourse” which doesn’t come across as Double Dutch as much as the slip above.

      • http://www.bazaarbayar.etsy.com Catherine Bayar

        I too think it’s our creative link, not being expats. I know many expats in my small town, but the ones I connect best with are other artists and writers, or people drawn to the place by the history and culture, not those there for the cheap real estate and endless summer sun.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/tara.agacayak Tara

    I don’t believe in the kind of destiny where we don’t have a choice about where we end up, but I do think that we have little voices inside that compel us to travel in certain directions that are inevitable.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much I have in common with other expat friends I’ve made – look how many writers there are for example.

    It does bring up the classic nature/nurture question – which influences the other? I don’t know if I can answer that, but it’s fun to think about.

    We learn a little bit more about ourselves when we see where our paths cross, don’t we?

    • Anonymous

      Tara,
      One of the revelations I had after the inaugural session of dialogue2010 was how connected I felt to you all, and I do believe it’s the fact that we are creative people that makes such —linking in— possible. Creative intercourse is what I crave and need.
      The reasons that bring us to a given foreign place may not have anything to do with the arts, but creativity is necessary to make survival possible.
      Creativity is a wide notion, one doesn’t necessarily need to create “art” (with caps or l.c.). But the art of bringing people together may lead to an artistic or at least creative (ad)venture.

      I don’t necessarily feel connected with expats in general —sharing the colors of a flag is not what makes a bird colorful— but I often do with those who are creative(s).

      • Anonymous

        Oops, I wonder whether I put my foot in your mouth again (pun intended) by writing “creative intercourse” usually I say “intellectual intercourse” which doesn’t come across as Double Dutch as much as the slip above.

      • http://www.bazaarbayar.blogspot.com Catherine Bayar

        I too think it’s our creative link, not being expats. I know many expats in my small town, but the ones I connect best with are other artists and writers, or people drawn to the place by the history and culture, not those there for the cheap real estate and endless summer sun.

  • Anastasia M. Ashman

    Thanks Tee…

    Another theory is this one posited by Catherine Yigit at her blog today. She asks if “we were sharing our hybrid lives because of our creativity or because of our experience of being expats”?

    That’s another thing we share Tee, you are a creative soul! I wonder if any of your relatives who think your life abroad is crazy are also creatives?

  • http://www.expatharem.com/identity-messages/ Anastasia

    Thanks Tee…

    Another theory is this one posited by Catherine Yigit at her blog today. She asks if “we were sharing our hybrid lives because of our creativity or because of our experience of being expats”?

    That’s another thing we share Tee, you are a creative soul! I wonder if any of your relatives who think your life abroad is crazy are also creatives?

  • http://www.taranoble.com Tee

    It’s a very interesting question, Anastasia. I have often wondered what it is that sets me apart from even other members of my family. I am the biggest risk taker by far. They all admire the fact that I choose to live abroad, and yet it is clear that some of them think it is more than a little crazy. We all grew up in Ohio. What made me different? I ponder it often.

    • http://www.dutchessabroad.com Judith van Praag

      Tee,
      How wonderful that most of your relatives admires you for your adventurous streak. That’s the kind of grounded support that keeps us anchored, no matter where we go.

      Your question calls up an image. I picture a community in Ohio and imagine the Big Sky and a shooting star, linked to the moment of your conception, with the sound track belonging to the lyrics that begin with “On the day that you were born.”

  • http://www.taranoble.com Tee

    It’s a very interesting question, Anastasia. I have often wondered what it is that sets me apart from even other members of my family. I am the biggest risk taker by far. They all admire the fact that I choose to live abroad, and yet it is clear that some of them think it is more than a little crazy. We all grew up in Ohio. What made me different? I ponder it often.

    • Anonymous

      Tee,
      How wonderful that most of your relatives admires you for your adventurous streak. That’s the kind of grounded support that keeps us anchored, no matter where we go.

      Your question calls up an image. I picture a community in Ohio and imagine the Big Sky and a shooting star, linked to the moment of your conception, with the sound track belonging to the lyrics that begin with “On the day that you were born.”

Previous post:

Next post: