Through lucid high altitude dreams of deadlines and popular demands, I say we should have a big house, a plunging, backlit estate with grounds, with a private road, gardens, a square of solid red earth for the helicopter. Jubilant rebels sweep Tripoli and we smile high-cheek-boned at each other. Why not? I say. Your reasons are many. Polling in both Europe and America suggests that a majority of locals think immigrants do more harm than good. The contrast between rich-country and emerging-market economic performance is not so evident in their stock markets. In deflecting trust and intimacy, such ‘cold-blooded self-sufficiency’ can also wreck lives. For so many reasons, I need a big house.*
*Several phrases in “Estrangeiros no Alentejo” are appropriated from New York Times headlines and the 27 August 2011 issue of The Economist.
Emily Stone is a New Yorker who has lived in Antigua, Guatemala; Melbourne, Australia; Guangzhou, China; and even Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her nonfiction pieces have appeared in journals such as Tin House and Fourth Genre, and her poems are forthcoming in the South Dakota Review. She teaches literature and creative writing in English at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, and she can be found online at www.chocolateincontext.com.
“I am currently engrossed in a cat and mouse game with a rodent that is perhaps larger than a mouse which I haven’t ever seen but which leaves unpleasant indicators of its presence on my small patio here in muggy south China. When I am not battling animals, oppressive heat, or drying laundry on my patio, I like to spend time out there with my wicker Ikea lounge chair and a good book.”