Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Update: The Playground Is Officially Way Shittier!

I didn't think it was possible for the playground at LE's school to get any shittier, but huzzah! They managed to make it so.

Monday's kid pickup was a mess of disgruntled parents smashed into a small corner with service buses attempting to crowd in where the parents were standing. One mom went all batshit screechy on a service bus driver about having to stand in another place a few feet away so he could park the bus. His position was that the bus had to park. Her position was that everyone couldn't possibly stand where he wanted her to stand.

In the end, he had a bus so he won the discussion.

At least they didn't kill the tree.
I guess they're improving the sports area. Miş. For all I know, they could be building a luxury hotel there. Goodness knows why they couldn't have waited two more weeks till school was out to start construction. Before this hole was dug, the sports area consisted of a fenced-in concrete basketball court where only the big kids played. The little kids didn't have a snowball's chance of getting into the coveted basketball court. While parents are standing around waiting to get their small kids, older kids come to kick footballs around because the basketball court is full of service buses. The balls hit parents and their babies in the head. It's kind of annoying but I just try to find strategic places to stand so I won't get hit with a ball. There's fuck-all else for kids this age to do in the afternoons and the schoolyard is one of the few places in the world to play.

Still when their ball comes near me, I just move out of the way without trying to stop it, letting the ball roll away across the schoolyard so they have to chase it. It's the best I can do to protest the ball.

Another mom handed me a petition demanding the construction be stopped. She was all fired up, being the one brandishing the petition. I started to wonder aloud what the point was of stopping the construction, since the hole was already dug. If they took the fence down, the hole would still be there and while it would be a super fun hole, I'm pretty sure it would be a safety hazard or something. She was all, "Just sign it!" and I did because who am I to start spouting logic when a petition is afoot? "It would have been better if they'd just waited 2 weeks," I said in my butchered conditionals. "Yes!" she hollered, rushing off to accost another parent.

Another adventure in safety.
Today, part of the fence had already fallen down and I stepped inside to take a picture. LE grabbed my arm and looked at Security Guard Kemal nervously, "No! Don't go in there!"

I guess it doesn't take long for people to learn the new rules of the improved schoolyard.

In any case, whatever they build can't possibly be much worse than what was already there.

On the other hand, I find myself saying a lot of things can't possibly be worse than they already are, only to be proven woefully wrong. So maybe I ought to just just keep my damn mouth shut.

Goatherding is looking increasingly attractive these days.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Sapık Çetesi, or Playground Whispers

Yesterday, a heavily armed sapık çetesi came to my kid's schoolyard and kidnapped 5 kids.

It's no cause for alarm, I promise, even though in Turkish, "sapık çetesi" means "gang of perverts."

When I picked up LE yesterday, he announced that he wouldn't be coming to school today. "Why's that?" I wondered, assuming it was one of those surprise days off they like to spring on us and I immediately began planning what I'd do with the boy while I was cooped up in a classroom for 4 hours managing the grading of student exam essays. In two seconds I'd developed two viable plans when he said, "There was a çete (gang) at our school today so I'm not coming tomorrow."

"Is school closed?" I asked him, looking around for other signs of alarm.

"No," he said. "I'm just not coming."

So I pressed him further about this gang. There were five of them. They were perverts. They had bombs strapped to their arms and held the fuses in their mouths. They carried clubs in their hands and had axes on their backs. They went into the preschool and took five kids. LE wanted to call his dad as soon as we got home.

"Um, okay." I was being super cool. "So... how old was this gang?"

"I dunno," he said. "I didn't see them. But Muhammet Mustafa and Umut saw them. The service bus driver saw them too, so it was real. They were young. Old. Like 30 I guess?"

"Hmm. Were they wearing masks? Did your friends see their faces?"

No really. They're totally real. Some guys in the news keep telling us.
"No, they weren't wearing masks."

Ok. So they weren't wearing masks. My whole panic-theory of Syrian terrorists or fake MİT provocateurs coming to kidnap kids was deflated because I'm pretty sure if it had been Syrians or MİT agents, they would have been wearing masks.

"Are you sure the bombs and guns and axes and stuff were real?" I asked.

He stopped walking. "Mom," he said in this voice he's developed when he's preparing to prove I'm the dumbest person in the universe. "They were grownups. Why would they have toy weapons. God!" and he stalked off.

Duh, mom.

"So what happened. Did the police come?" Oh, sure they had. Lots of them. "And did they get the kidnapped kids back?" Maybe. Probably. Yes.

"And do you know what my teacher said? She said it was nothing. But you know what? She was lying just so the kids wouldn't get scared. She's a liar."

As soon as we got home, Baba was called. LE told him about the sapık çetesi. BE went way less batshit than I was expecting. "I think there were just some kids being obnoxious," I told him.

"Serseri çocuk," he said. "Serseri" is like hoods or thugs. Neighborhood toughs, if you will.

And we went back and forth about it for awhile, theorizing. We decided it was probably nothing. He tried to be more manful, saying he was going to call the karakol (I still have their number from when we got robbed), and the principal, and LE's friend Kaan's handsome dad. I told him I'd talk to Security Guard Kemal in the morning. Security Guard Kemal is a bit of a dipshit, but the kids like him. They call him Kemal Abi. He's like a Turkish security guard version of Groundskeeper Willie. "He won't tell you anything," said BE. I didn't think so either. Security Guard Kemal is extremely unsettled by me, which is why I've only talked to him twice and he didn't care for it either time.

LE went and hid under a very small table and cried. It took me awhile to find him. He was crying because he thought his dad would be mad because apparently the kids were sleuthing around the playground every recess looking for the sapık çetesi and asking Kemal Abi a lot of questions and Kemal Abi got mad.

They always look at you with their dead eyes.
And then MIL called in a dither. Christ, BE, why don't you think these things through? You told your mom, seriously? She was freaking out, wittering on about the poor security and the chaos at the gates when the morning kids are leaving and the afternoon kids are coming in and did they have cameras there? All of it of course came to me as a subtle indictment about how I do everything wrong, including choosing a school for my kid. I told her yes they have cameras even though I'm not sure if they do or if they do have them, whether the cameras actually work. I told her it was nothing, probably. Mostly I just wanted her to shut up so I could eat my dinner, which I was holding in a plate in my hand waiting for her to shut up. It had been a long fucking day for those of us who have jobs.

So this morning, I went to talk to Security Guard Kemal. I was standing right next to him saying "Excuse me, can I ask you something?" and he wouldn't turn his head. After several tries a bunch of kids had gathered in a circle around us and I kind of grabbed his shoulder and he had no choice but to deal with me.

"Uh, I just wanted to know what happened yesterday? My kid was talking about some weird thing..."

"It was nothing," he grumbled. "Nothing happened."

But thanks to LE's wise insight about his teacher lying to the kids so they wouldn't get scared, I played the man card. "I have to tell his dad what happened because his dad was wondering is all." The kids around us all went silent, looking up at us with their moon faces.

And you know what happened? It was this guy. He made the papers and everything.

He's just having a cola at the bus stop.
I'd seen him around a few days before and I admit he was kind of scary, though he wasn't actually doing anything. He reminded me of this guy.

But really the fellow was just mentally ill and fairly harmless. According to the article, the police got him cleaned up and gave him some clothes and sent him on his way.

So you see? It really was nothing.

But in one day, among all those kids, an oral tradition was formed. They filled in the blanks of the things they didn't quite get and they made the story way more exciting throughout the day even as they freaked themselves the hell out. It must have been delicious.

And it certainly is not the first time people have created a myth out of seeing a strange man.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

This was the first year since I've had my kid that he wished me happy Mother's day. Given that it's a very small situation in host of other small situations, I just try not to think about it very much.

But I do think about it. And it was really nice that he did it.

Some backstory. Last week I got really mad at the MIL. Hella mad. LE had been staying with her the whole time he was sick (he's back now, by the way, and all better, bomba gibi) and we missed each other so I went to visit him and check in.

Apparently the whole time he was staying there, MIL was feeling like all her naggy little hints on the phone to me about how I could have taken better care of LE to prevent him from getting sick weren't enough for her. She'd been saving up for the real thing. So we, the whole family I mean, were packed into the little bedroom where LE was trying to get his dad to let him use the computer. MIL just ripped into me. I should have taken him to the doctor sooner. I should have taken better care of him. What did I do to make him sick? I don't make him wash his hands enough. I don't make him wear a coat when it's 70 degrees outside. The kids at his school are dirty. His preschool is dirty and no one makes the kids was their hands enough. I took him to Yeşilköy, where, despite its high-end appearances, is one of the most filthy-child-ridden regions of Istanbul.

I didn't handle it well. I lost it a little. I cut her off and told her she was wrong. I told her I look after him. I
Fuck you, Internet. I learn nothing from your infographics.
told her he looks after himself. I attempted to explain germs and their mysterious workings. I assured her no one is filthy. I assured her the preschool looks after the kids.

She was having none of it and started going off how he's been coughing and sniffling for a month. That's allergies, I told her. It's nothing to do with scarlet fever. I explained to her about exposure and incubation periods, which of course I knew off the top of my head after all the learning I'd been doing on the Internet.

She wasn't having any of that either. "Why didn't you take him to the doctor right away? You never take him to the doctor. What's wrong with you that you don't take a sick child to the doctor?" I told her the first day he was too sick to go to the doctor, and since he was eating a bit and taking fluids and his fever was under control, I didn't see any reason to torture him by making him move around. Anyway, what would have been the point? His dad took him to the doctor the second day he was sick, but since he had no rash yet, she misdiagnosed it. I mentioned the doctor was probably overworked from seeing so many kids whose parents were taking them to the doctor needlessly for every little sniffle.

We were talking over each other at this point. FIL kind of dragged her out of the room. I asked BE (sitting with his back to me wearing earphones while he played a video game on the computer) if he thought I'd fucked up. He said no. I told him I was sorry I'd been rude to his mom just then and he grunted.

MIL came back and started screeching again. For everything she said I just said "okay." She hated that. So she tried to drag BE into it, telling him how mad she was at the two of us for not looking after our kid. "Change the subject," he told his mom. "Stop talking about it." But she kept going. "Are you trying to start a fight?" he asked her? "Yes," she said. "Yes I am," and LE giggled. "Change the subject," BE said to her again, and FIL dragged her out again.

Look, I get it a little bit. She's high strung and a bit nuts and doesn't handle stress well. Sickness is one of her things, and LE was a damn sick little boy for a few days. Stress gives her dandruff and I could see huge flakes of it hanging on her hair. Her face was pale and pinched.

But still. Fuck her. Seriously. I'm still pretty mad.

After her tirade, FIL came in by himself and he and I talked like grownups for awhile. He asked after my family and sent his love and we talked about scarlet fever and where it could have come from. I told him all the fun facts I'd been learning about scarlet fever, and he was interested, especially because when he was a kid it was still a thing people died from. He, like most people, thought there was a vaccine for it now. He said everyone was really surprised to hear LE had it. I told him most people didn't even believe me that he had it, but that probably was not just because it's so rare, but also because I'm foreign people might assume I'm saying the wrong word. And also because who the hell gets scarlet fever?

Later, I snuggled up to LE and asked him if it had been crazy house all week. "No," he said. "A little." I asked if it made him upset and he was all, "That's just how they are. What are you gonna do?"

My little fatalist.

So there was that. I've been mad all week. There's no point in listing here all the reasons why the MIL is under-informed and counter-productive and fucked in the head. I did tell BE once again they should take her to a therapist or something. I know. So American, right? I don't think anyone would ever be able to teach her how to break her little cognitive loops or manage her Big Feelings better, but I do think it would do her some good to have a professional, an All-Knowing Doctor, give her some attention and make her feel like her Big Feelings are something worth giving value to and dealing with. Goodness knows no one else does.
Oh, you wanna martyr? Cuz I can do that.

And now I'm just as bad as they are because I also failed to deal with her Big Feelings when they appear as a bunch of useless bullshit flying at my face.

Still, I called her up today to wish her happy Mother's Day. This is one of my assholiest moves in the great chess game of Divorce From the In-Laws. My other one is flummoxing her from time to time by telling her how much I appreciate her looking after LE and what a good job she does. But every year, I call her up to wish her happy Mother's Day or Happy Bayram and if anyone had bothered to know her birthday (the one on her ID is made up because no one could remember the actual day), I'd wish her happy birthday. When BE and I were married, I reminded him to call his mom on Mother's Day. I still remind him it's Mother's Day so he remembers to get her flowers.

That's the thing about Mother's Day. Some grownup has to remind the kids to do something nice for their mom. I don't see any point in reminding LE to wish me Happy Mother's Day. And when BE and I were still married, LE couldn't talk through most of that time and when he did learn how to talk, he didn't really get what everyone was on about anyway.

So I swallowed being mad and phoned her up. I braced myself for getting bawled out about the Popsicle.

Side Story: The Popsicle Incident
More like frozen death on a stick.
The other day, LE wanted a Popsicle after school. I said no, for no other reason than the fact that I like to exercise random parental authority. No, really. There was no reason not to get him a Popsicle except that I just didn't feel like getting him a Popsicle. He started acting like he was gonna get all pissy and make my evening unpleasant in some way so I promised him the next day, I'd get him a Popsicle no matter what, even if it was snowing. That night MIL called him and he told her about the Popsicle. I could hear her screeching in the phone from across the room and LE was covering his mouth giggling. "One of us is gonna get killed," I told him when he hung up. The next day I made him a bet that she'd call again to see if he'd had the Popsicle. She didn't call and I lost the bet and now I owe LE a massage. But when BE came to pick him up the following day, the first thing he asked was whether LE had gotten the Popsicle the day before. "Yes!" LE told him gleefully as we searched for some pants that didn't have a rip in them because all his good pants are over at his dad's and his dad told me LE couldn't go over there in shorts. "We couldn't decide if shorts or ripped pants were worse," I told him, because last time LE's pants were ripped, MIL screeched about it for three days. "You're in trouble about the Popsicle," BE told me. "Even my dad is mad."

"Don't forget you owe me a massage," LE said.

The End

Back To Mother's Day
Just deliver to Sarıyer, Colonel!
BE answered the phone. I told him I was calling to wish his mother happy Mother's Day. I could hear his brain remembering to run out and buy her flowers. I was having breakfast with a friend who knows about this whole family chess game and he was saying, loudly, "Happy Mother's Day, Stranger." BE put his mother on. She didn't mention the Popsicle. "Did the boy make you breakfast for Mother's Day?" I asked her.
"Of course we had breakfast," she said.
"But did LE make you breakfast?" I asked.
"Who, LE?" she asked.
"Yeah, or BE. Did one of them make you breakfast?"
"Of course we had breakfast," she said, sounding a bit annoyed. Clearly what I was saying was so foreign, and not because I'm a foreigner, that it was causing a complete breakdown in communication. I gave up and talked to LE for bit. He was pretty busy with Minecraft.
"He's not much a mutlti-tasker," I told my friend when I hung up.
"Happy Mother's Day," he said.
"Aw, thanks!" I said.
"I'd better remember to call my mom tonight. There's the window between when she gets up and church..." he said. My phone rang and it was BE. "Bythewayhappymother'sday. Here. LE wants to tell you something."
And LE did his filial duty even though Minecraft was still clearly calling. BE must have been being a good sharer today if LE still had the computer.

And there it was. For the first time in the three years we've been separated, BE remembered to tell LE to do something nice for me.

Granted he had help, but it's a start. And weirdly enough, I feel like I've won this battle.


Monday, April 28, 2014

A Visit From The Olden Days: Sick Kid Update

Little man. I wish I could squish him now.
So after all the puking, LE went on to just be regular sick, like a flu. I skipped work and had the rare privilege of looking after him while he was adorable cuddly sick. One time after Pirates of the Caribbean I was all, "Hey, why don't you go to sleep for a little while?" and he was all, "Ok," and he went to sleep for a little while. A whole bunch of times I held him on my lap and rocked him and he went to sleep as though he's not getting entirely too big to sit in my lap.

I made the chicken soup. It was awesome. LE ate a bit of that and some other stuff, and he was drinking stuff so it seemed he was going to be okay. His dad came and got him Saturday and I told him to go ahead and take the boy to the doctor because he still had a fever and what the hell. His dad hasn't paid child support in a year, so the least he can do is take the boy to the doctor, and a fancy private one at that.
He probably didn't really say that.

The doctor gave not one, but two kinds of antibiotics. Apparently they tasted really gross. I've tasted his antibiotics before and they're fucking awful. So bad you want to spit like 20 times and wipe your tongue with kolonya. On the second day of the antibiotics, LE didn't want to take them. BE told him he'd have to go to the hospital and get the serum with the needle and everything. LE hated the medicine so much he puked it up and was all, "Give me the needle, bitches."

So that's what they did. By then, it was clear the rash he had wasn't heat rash. The doctor got us all freaked out it was measles, blaming the Syrian refugees. After extensive blaming from the MIL about the boy getting sick, I got all worried the measles were indeed my fault because he hasn't had his last round of vaccinations. I've tried several times with doctors, but they just shoo me off assuring me that they'll do the vaccinations at his school for free, so why pay for them? And since I haven't gotten any child support in a year, I'm like, "Seems reasonable." But they haven't done them at school yet.

The black thing is a temporary pirate tattoo that hasn't come off for like two weeks. Elementary school kid lore maintains that temporary tattoos are sort of haram and also give you cancer. It could be the haram-ish tattoo that made him sick. 
MIL knows everything is my fault. I'm not even a real mother, letting that poor neglected kid run around naked and go to bed early. Other things that are my fault include Syria and that missing plane and the Star Wars prequels, all three of them. My main problem is that I have a multitude of other concerns in my head and my stigmata rarely leak. It weighs on me and I'm sorry.

Fortunately, it's not measles, but get this: it's scarlet fever. SCARLET FUCKING FEVER! Seriously? Do they even have that anymore? What the hell? Even with all of my neglect there's no way I could have caused a disease from 1850 to strike my house. I should have tied my corsets tighter. I should have polished my spats and ivory tipped walking cane more carefully. I need a snuffbox. We have a total lack of spittoons around here. And where's my orphan worker?

I need me one of these.
So I dutifully informed everyone-- LE's school, his pre-school, his friends he's played with in the last week, a former student/FB friend who helped organize the kids' fair LE went to the day he got sick, and I even sent an email to the faculty listserv in case any of their kids had been at the fair (which was held in the gym because of rain) -- and then I promptly got on with life.

Scarlet fever, when it's not a steampunk illness, just needs a whack of penicillin. LE got his last night and felt great and demanded Turkish breakfast on the spot, which of course was dutifully provided, leaking stigmata and all.

And of course I went and researched it, hoping scarlet fever had some romantic famous people connections, like syphilis and tuberculosis. In addition to both my grandfathers, here are some famous people who had scarlet fever:

Olden days illnesses are fucking awesome.
Well, no one actually. I checked about Helen Keller and Wikipedia says it was either scarlet fever or meningitis that got her. And Mary Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie fame? Turns out it was probably also meningitis that made her go blind, but the book editors changed it to scarlet fever because that was more understandable for people. The dumbing down of books has been happening for a long time.

So scarlet fever is still a thing. LE is on the mend. MIL lacks empathy, but it would be silly of me to expect otherwise. At least I can stick her with the boring part of kid sickness that involves making a kid who feels fine stay inside and not have any fun at all. Plus I can do my day job and my night proofreading job and maybe get in one or two cool nights out before all hell breaks loose on May 1.

Which is sure to happen. Wait for it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Puke-O-Rama: A Delayed Milestone

He was feeling mostly fine earlier today.

Tonight the boy wasn't feeling well so I advised him to skip dinner and go to bed. At first he was against that idea, but as he started to feel worse, he thought maybe that sounded okay. His stomach was upset and he had a sore throat so I promised him some medicine and herded him to the bathroom before anything gross happened.

Anything gross that happens in the bathroom is fairly easy to deal with, as far as gross things go. Turkish bathrooms have drains in the floor in case it's so gross you just need to hose the whole thing down.

So the poor boy was sitting miserably on the toilet saying his tummy hurt and shivering and not really wanting to make the effort to leave where he was. Sensing something gross was about to happen (he'd gone pretty white at this point and was swallowing a lot), I coaxed him to clean up and pull up his pants by promising to let him use my awesome sore throat gargle that's yummy like the sore throat spray he likes so much.

It worked, but when it came time for the gargle he cried and ran away. So I tried to get him to hunch over the toilet. Lucky for us, the cleaner had been through today so the toilet wasn't gross at all but he was scared of what was going to happen.

And then it occurred to me. Puking is not something he's really used to. He's never been much of a puker. Of course, there have been some carsick incidents and I always carry some bags on me for when minibus drivers go down the curvy hill too fast. There was that time when he was about two that he puked on his dad in the car and I was all, "Hee!" because his dad was so appalled, having never really dealt with any sort of bodily ejections from the child.

Tie dye and super cute.
The grossest one was when LE was a baby and suddenly decided halfway though eating his egg that he didn't like egg anymore. I never could get the smell of that one out of his pajamas so I threw them away. I was bummed too, because those pajamas were super cute.

I got him over the toilet an he totally hurled. I tried to act like it was cool so he wouldn't be scared because hurling is a fairly powerful thing if you're not used to it. I've never seen him hurling like that either so I was a little scared too. When he was done I got him to bed and brought him our biggest cooking pot, telling him that if he needed to hurl again to just do it in the pot. He was worried what would happen if he filled the pot. I assured him he would have to puke about 8 one-liter bottles of milk for that. He told me to quit making jokes and leave him alone. So I did.

And I went and made myself some dinner. His dad called wanting to talk to LE, and I was forced to tell him the boy was sick and sleeping. Babaanne was noisily advising nane-limon in the background. I assured them it's cool if I take the day off work tomorrow because nothing is going on and it seems awfully mean to make a tummy sick kid to ride in the car all the way to his dad's house.

Then Babaanne phoned right after to check in and remind me again about the nane-limon and to offer to take the boy off my hands tomorrow but I was adamant on keeping him. The thing is, he tends to get sick on weekends when he goes to his dad. It's as though his germs know I'm uninterested in minor complaints and they hold out till he gets to his Babaanne, who's extraordinarily interested in minor complaints. "It's my turn to look after him," I told her as sort of a joke, keeping in mind that the last time he got sick at their house involved a few diarrhea disasters that I was rather pleased weren't my problem. "Oh, no," Babaanne said. "It's not like that. We all miss him."

These will fucking kill you. Also air will kill you.
Which means either my sort-of joke fell horribly flat and seemed rude and territorial somehow, or that she hasn't had a martyr fix in awhile, or it means something else I totally missed. It was a particularly confusing call because she didn't blame me somehow for making him get sick, like by letting him eat Popsicles or by not forcing him to wear an undershirt. So I just told her she's awesome but I'm happy to look after him. The thing is, puke and diarrhea are super gross, but sick kids are a little bit adorable as long as they're not dying or anything. They're cuddly and nice and let you fuss over them, plus it means I can make chicken soup and skip work.

Naturally after that, I went on the Internet to review the symptoms of meningitis, E-Coli, and Ebola. Then I started reading some crap on Facebook, all feeling rather pleased that when my kid pukes, he does it either rarely or neatly. I was also marveling at myself for being unfazed about puke, and chalked it up to drunken adventures. I remembered a time in college when my brother puked on my arm and I didn't care, not really, though it helped that I was wearing short sleeves. I came across this article about real baby milestones and was all, "Hee! I remember when LE rolled off the bed the first time, and then he managed to roll off the sofa a couple of days later." Then I got to the part about getting puked on in the face for the first time and thought smugly, "That's why I never held the baby up in the air over my face."
Bad idea.

And seriously, just as I was reading that part, I heard a weak, "Mama" from the bedroom. I got in there to find the baby, now a boy, lying there puking all over his face. I got him up and over the cooking pot to finish up, and then he flopped back down into the pile of puke on his pillow.

Just put the lotion in the fucking basket already.
"Oh, honey, no, don't lie down!" I said, too late, and he said weakly into his own puke, "I'm sorry, Mama," like I'm Joan Crawford fixing to beat him with a pillowcase full of soap bars for slapping his face into his puke. I just wanted to save him from the indignity of that, but you know. Mother guilt.

So I got him into the bathroom and stripped him and washed him off and seriously, my past drunken adventures were no help at that point. How do you get a kid's shirt off that's covered with puke without getting more puke all over the kid? I almost puked like four times. Puke was falling off in bits onto the floor. I wondered if my mom used to almost puke when she washed me off because for sure I was a kid with a tendency to puke quite a lot. I was glad the boy had opted for salad for lunch instead of a hamburger. I thought of that scene in Stand By Me with all the puking that almost made me puke when I saw it in the theater, and then the movie just left me sad and unsettled because the narrator said River Phoenix's character died in a barfight when he grew up. At 12, there was no way I was getting over that shit.
Did anyone get over him?

Plus there was puke on the bed. Puke on the bed! What the hell do you do about that? I'll bet my mom knows. But so does the Internet. So I relocated the kid up to the sofa while I dealt with the bed and checked the Internet about puke on the bed and tried to ignore my half-eaten dinner because the puke was starting to do my stomach in. How the hell did my mom deal with puke on the bed before the Internet? I hauled the kid, all fevered and whimpering no no no no back to the bed I'd mostly cleaned up but also covered with a blanket and an extra towel until I can clean it properly tomorrow because there's no way I'm cleaning puke out of the sofa and there's really no way I'm moving the kid to my bed. There needs to be at least one puke-free bed in this house.

The poor mite has puked a few times since then. I've researched the early symptoms of the zombie virus just in case, but the Internet isn't clear on that. The last time he puked, he didn't get mad at me for making jokes and even asked me to describe in detail all the times I puked when I was a kid. I made some jokes and told him about some of my childhood puking incidents because he's pretty sure he's going to die. I don't blame him. It sucks to feel that way. I tried to explain some reasons he might be puking but that's really hard to do without mentioning food eaten earlier and as a seasoned puker, I know food eaten earlier is the last thing you want to hear about.

And that's it. We survived the delayed super gross kid puke milestone. It was super gross no matter how sorry I feel for the little man. I hope next time he does this, he's old enough for me to make him clean it up himself.

That last sentence was bullshit. No matter what, I'll always rub his back and and go "ssshhhhh" and assure him he's not going to die and love him no matter how stinky he is, even if he pukes on my face.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


So it's finally happened. It's been more than a month since I blogged about anything, but then Twitter got banned (sort of), and there was nothing for me to do but open a Twitter account.

Like all techno-thingies, I've resisted Twitter for a long time, despite extensive peer pressure. I resisted the Internet at first as some sort of newfangled distraction that would never catch on (this was, mind you, when Webcrawler was the best browser option and dial-up made the Internet super boring). I regarded email as pointless until I had to set up an account for work. The only reason I opened a Facebook account in the first place was to apply for a freelance gig that never panned out, and which turned out to be lame anyway.

No. No, you were never lightning fast.
I don't suppose I need to elaborate on the details of why all my anxiety and hesitation turned out to be stupid and completely wrong. Now I'm the one on the Istanbul Women's Facebook page all coolly advising everyone how the world isn't coming to an end just yet, just Google how to change your DNS number and VPNs aren't scary because I learned all this stuff when You Tube was banned for two years. I hardly know exactly what all these acronyms and numbers are, but I know how to make them work to get me the things on the Internet I want to have.

And there are a lot of things on the Internet that Turkey doesn't want me to have. There are also a lot of things the US doesn't want me to have. To that I say, "Fuck all y'all." I have like 8 CDs downloading on my work computer right now. I figure I've paid enough money to the entertainment industry in my life. They pretty much owe me at this point.

Keytar? Technology is awesome. 
So now I'm on Twitter and I feel like someone's grandma on Twitter because I don't get how it works with all the hashtags schmashtags and whatever, but I'll figure it out.

Today at LE's school, I overheard some dads and a grampa talking about Twitter. Amca was all "What is this Twitter business I keep hearing about? Twitter is closed falan... what is this Twitter and why did they close it?" and a younger fellow told him it's this thing where you can post stuff and other people read it and also you can send free messages. Amca was all, "Oh, so it's like Whatsapp or whatever? Free messages are great-- why would they want to close that?" and the younger guy was like, "Well, that's part of it but there are also articles and pictures and stuff."

And Amca nodded and rubbed his chin and said, "So it's like this Facebook where you send your pictures and other people talk about them?" and the younger guy said, "Yeah, it's kind of like that, but different." And Amca said, "Well, of course I don't do Facebook because I don't understand any of that anyway. I don't get why they bother closing this and that and the other thing." The younger guy shuffled his feet a bit and went for a non-committal, "Well, you know how it is işte, burası Türkiye..."

Amca winked at me. I was doing a crappy job being sneaky about eavesdropping, all with my phone out trying to read a few articles in the remaining minutes before the kids came out of school; the Twitter ban, the Syria crisis, the everything else crisis. Every day it seems a little bit worse that I brought a kid into this world.

Amca slapped his hands on his thighs before standing and making his final pronouncement on the Twitter issue. "I guess so long as we can still drink tea. If they don't ban tea, everything will be fine." The other two men nodded in somber agreement and Amca smiled my way.

And then they went on to talk about the weather, which is changeable these days, and the huge flock of birds that flies over our heads around the same time each evening, and the crazy things our kids get up to, like punching each other in the mouth, which maybe I won't be writing anything about but maybe I will. Maybe it won't even matter if I do or don't.

I'll probably be too busy reading stuff on Twitter.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine's Day My Ass, It's Turkiversary Day!

I haven't done anything to celebrate Valentine's Day since I was in grade school and we had those Valentine's Day parties in class where everyone has a shoebox with a hole cut in the front and everyone else in the class had to stick those crappy cards with crappy puns into everyone else's shoebox. You had to sign all the cards the night before with your mom watching over your shoulder to make sure you didn't write something shitty to the kids who were assholes.

Lucky for me, 14 February is also my anniversary of the day I came to Turkey. So this is not a bitter Valentine's Day post. It's just a post wherein I extoll my gladness for having come to Turkey 12 years ago.

At the time I came here, I believed I was coming to Istanbul for love. In retrospect that whole thing was a delicious delusion but it turned out very well indeed because it wasn't love at all, though in the end it ended up being something like that.

And so I've decided to grace you with one of these damned lists that the Internet keeps churning out. In honor of my 12 years in Istanbul, here's a list of 12 things that tell me I've been in Istanbul for 12 years.

Please note that I will not mention tea or people's hospitality because yawn. I'm bored to death of those newbie lists.

1) The other day I marched into the eczane and requested yeast infection medication. Then I asked for some cream for the itching, and the guy asked where it itched, and I said, "My vagina." The eczane crowd of gawkers wasn't as big as usual, but it was all male. What can I do sometimes?

2) I remember when there were trees on Istiklal.
Now they've paved the cobbles along the tracks to make it easier for TOMAs to pass.
3) When my kid has friends over and I bring them a snack, he asks if it's haram before letting his friends eat it. He seems to think all we eat is haram.

4) I've started telling people off for stuff like cutting in line or polishing their nails in restaurants.

5) Forgetting my wallet at home is no reason not to do the grocery shopping. You can always pay it back later.

This, for example, is not traffic.
6) I can tell how long we'll be sitting in traffic based on who is begging or what's being sold. Water, flowers, or simit-- not long. Toys or balloons arranged on a long stick-- longer. Small child beggars in between lanes-- pretty long. Legless beggars in between lanes on the freeway-- screwed.

7) I went to the dentist last week for a filling and he offered to do it without anesthetic and I accepted. He didn't even charge me for the filling.

8) I can sometimes tell what people really mean in Turkish by how and when they say it.

9) I have never bought terlik in my life, yet I have a healthy supply of terlik.

10) An empty water bottle makes an excellent football. All the kids in the schoolyard are doing it.

11) When going to have a meal or a drink outside any time that's not summer with a group friends that has Turkish people in it, I check with the Turks if they have issues about getting cold. If they do (and this is a thing), then we sit inside.

12) Even before the trees started blossoming, I knew it was going to be an early spring because the cats started fucking a few weeks ago. Still, I'll find someone to confirm the cemre are falling right this year, and I'll hold out for the leylek to be sure.