New York

Mapping My LinkedIn Network

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 4.41.07 PM My network has a new branch since I last did this network map in March 2013. That maroon group on the lower lefthand side is from PJ Van Hulle's 90-day list-building challenge, Listapalooza.

The blue are Turkey and Expat Harem-related. The green are Turkish diaspora. The pink is Bryn Mawr College, the orange is social media and online marketing pros, and professional coaches. The bronze is NYC, SF, writing and travel peers. The yellow at center is Silicon Valley, startups and the VC world, while the light blue is the TED community.

Click on the image to see a larger version. Here's where to get your own.

My Global Niche: An Interview With Today's Zaman Newspaper

American reporter in Turkey Brooks Emerson asked me about the foreign edge, and the challenges of finding my niche in Turkey for his series on expat success stories in national English-language newspaper Today's Zaman. In the far-ranging interview, Emerson asks me what the initial impetus for my success as an expat was, and how I've evolved.

No surprise to those who know me, foreign language adoption has not played much of a role -- once I realized that taking business meetings and doing live television interviews in Turkish literally was rendering me mute! But mentoring in all realms of my personal and professional life has been a "secret weapon" in the creative entrepreneurship of self that I aim to practice.

Emerson asks me how the environment affects the outcome of an expat's endeavors. I tell him how sense of place can inspire a sense of self.

"Anastasia says that she has always been attracted to places with an amalgamation of people and cultures. However, the biggest pull is “the idea of crossroads … like Rome, where [she] studied in college … and now here on the Bosporus,” where she senses a positive energy and vibration for self-discovery and reinvention.

"Anastasia believes that working and living abroad is an excellent way to discover new self-potential."

Read Emerson's entire July 2011 interview "The global niche of Anastasia Ashman" online.

Expat Images: Unrecognizable Vs. Iconic

On my first serious expat stint, Southeast Asia in the ‘90s, I achieved a state of photographic oblivion. When I set out from Los Angeles I was already solidly unemployed, unproductive, and unmotivated. I had a capricious romance to see me through.

In Asia, life losses piled up: heirlooms ransacked at the container yard, the cruel theft of a puppy, the unfathomable demise of my best friend.

I did not write about any of these things. Too much shock, no support. Turns out capricious romance isn’t the best fallback in a crisis.

LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL BARRIERS PREVENTED ME FROM BONDING WITH THE CHINESE, MALAYS, TAMILS AND THAIS AROUND ME. My reactions were miscalibrated: I laughed when introduced to a person with the name of a celebrated American boxer -- a common moniker in Malaysia -- and took offense at the quickly-retracted handshake of a traditional Malay greeting. I expected dinner party banter at gatherings that instead seemed to focus on the scarfing of food in silence.

Soon enough I was as unrecognizable as my new world.

My own body was erasing me. A spongy, knee-less Southern Italian genetic inheritance asserted itself with the help of a greasy local diet while my hair frizzed mercilessly in the tropical air.

Friends who knew me during cosmopolitan past lives in New York, California, and Italy wouldn’t identify me as the 30-pounds heavier creature with the ill-fitting clothes and unschooled haircut photographed in jungles and palaces.

Uprooted from my milieu, in a harsh climate and surrounded by perpetual strangers, I was desperate to locate comfort whatever the cost.

My Asia photographs are stowed, an expat adventure distressing to recall, impossible to frame. Yet, scraping bottom (especially on the far side of the world) has a benefit. It’s easy to see which way is up.

My 12-time zone couch surf back to New York was like a Phoenix’s ascent from the ashes

RECENTLY I'VE BEEN PICTURED MONSTROUS AGAIN. Breathe easy: happily married, in possession of a hard won sense of self. This particular snapshot of expat life is a mantle piece pride. There I am in 2005 commandeering the lens, the microphone, the printing press in Istanbul as Turkish newspapers and television discuss my expat literature collection by foreign women about their lives in modern Turkey. Tales not universally known, many writers never before published. All of them minority voices in a Muslim nation with a reputation for censorship.

The celebrity-studded book launch is a blur, except for my unauthorly leather pants and shiny rock star coiffure -- those are in fine focus in my mind’s eye! I haven’t often been so polished before or since, nor managed to squeeze into the lambskin trousers, but no matter.

As a coiner of the concept of the Expat Harem virtual community -- feminine storytellers making sense of life’s evolutions through the filter of another culture -- in a flash I became iconic.

A positive image of an expat to others, and to myself.

THE FLEETING, PICTURESQUE MOMENT CAPTURES AN ENDURING TRUTH ABOUT MY EXPATRIATISM. In a wide world of strangers I’ve finally found my perpetual peers, and a theoretical home for both my literary career and my life abroad.

Now I have a way to nurture and sustain my most valuable expatriate possession -- my sense of self -- no matter where I am, or what heights or depths I face.

What image captures you at your most unrecognizable  -- and your most iconic? What was happening in your life in that moment? +++++ This post originally appeared in Amanda van Mulligen's blogseries "Expat Images"

Psychic Location Independence: Optimizing Life In Spite Of Where You Are

The website Location Independent Professionals asked why we want to be location independent. "Whatever you're looking for you can find where you are." It's simply not true. We can get what we want and need where we are -- but not with a local solution. Try a psychic one.

Take my short and balmy trip to Manhattan. I acted as a technology mule, bringing iPads to poor, under-served early adopters here in Istanbul, and reconnected with friends doing work I admire on scales and with methods I aspire to. My peers.

Right up my alley. But I may never live there again.

Most of us cannot (always) go somewhere on the ground where all our people and our perfect lifestyle exist. We must find that psychically -- our "global niche".

The meaning and purpose of location independence and digital nomadism is to live and work autonomously. Although it evokes mobility, it's especially crucial for long term living situations: to find a way to get what you want and need despite the limitations of your location.  Much like the cross-national quandary posed at expat+HAREM -- "are you a global citizen by choice, or necessity?" --  out of necessity to live and work to my abilities I aim to be independent of my specific location.

Are you location independent by choice, or necessity? Where and why?

Rhapsody In Red: New York's Meatpacking District

Morning comes fast and filthy in the meatpacking district.

“No one beats our meat,” leers the cheeky hand-lettered tagline on a local butchery truck.

It's parked on the reeking edge of 1980s New York civilization, waiting for the goods under cover of predawn murk.

A lightening sky reveals new atrocities, like the cobble stoned gutters of Gansevoort Street where chicken feathers float gracefully on chartreuse anti-freeze.

At the corner of Little West Twelfth, a chunky, sueded ham-bone is jostled from an overloaded Dumpster!

Whispers and grunts.

Local loft residents commuting to art school, publishing work, the fashion biz avert eyes as transvestite prostitutes and teenage runaways service seedy clientele between refrigerated 6-wheelers.

From vans emblazoned with waving Porky Pig counterfeits, gutted hogs bled grey swing in suspended unison on rails toward the cinderblock Pork-and-Pack plant. That’s all for these folks.

Late morning, leather-clad bikers stumble out of Jay’s BDSM bar at Hudson and 14th, blinded, sated, heading home.

Noon.

The end of workday whistle blows and meat packers emerge, steel-stomached servants of a carnivorous society, from chilled caverns through dense polyvinyl climate-control curtains.

Brutal job well-done, in blood-stained lab coats and heavy rubber boots they stroll down the sunny avenue, pockets full of fifths.

+++ This appeared in Versal, an international literary magazine published in Amsterdam

Pulled Steven Paul Martini Out Of The Slush Pile

I discovered author Steven Paul Martini at Wieser & Wieser Author's Representatives

A book and author I pulled out of the slush pile in 1988.

I discovered Steven Paul Martini's debut novel THE SIMEON CHAMBER while working as director of operations at WIESER & WIESER Authors’ Representatives and Book Packagers.

It piqued my interest as a California-born archaeologist and childhood treasure hunter at Drakes Beach.

I passed the manuscript to my boss George Wieser who represented it to publisher Don Fine, who bought the book.

The author went on to become a New York Times bestselling author of legal thrillers.