Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Hate Everything

Not everything. But almost. LE is great. He's learning how to walk. I could probably learn something from his attitude towards this, which is that it's a new thing to do, and so it's a big fun game. I don't think it's clear to him that walking on his own is an eventual goal. He just seems to like letting go, taking a few steps, then falling down tremendously and finding it all hilarious. Perhaps if he thought walking was the goal, he'd find it frustrating. If it were me, I'd say 'Screw this, crawling works just fine and I'll stick with it until my kneecaps grow in and I'm forced to do something else.' And apparently this was my attitude at an early age, as my mother says I didn't really walk until I was around 18 months old.

LE also enjoys repetitive things, as babies do. He's happy to spend hours handing me two Legos to put together for him (his little hands can't quite manage this even though they're big, baby-sized Legos), then he takes them apart and gives them back to me to reassemble. His patience with this is astounding. I guess I should be glad he's not one of those kids who's bored with everything after five minutes. On the other hand, I'm not overly fond of reassembling the Legos 400,000 times a day. If he weren't so delighted with it I wouldn't bother, just as I wouldn't bother pretending to answer his baby cell phone for an hour a day, or pretending to take pictures of him with his baby camera. But he's totally thrilled to bits with these things, every time. And it's not like I have much else going on.


Maybe that's the rub, the feeling that there's nothing going on and everything will continue exactly the same forever and ever. I blame spring. There are definitely spring-y things happening here. Trees are budding, including the lovely ones with the white flowers, and the stupid birds who've chosen a hole right outside my bedroom window for their nest are back, complete with their pre-sunrise screeching and scrabbling. Lucky for them this year, LE usually has me up by this time anyway so I haven't once tried to discourage their nest placement by chucking slippers at the window. But the early days of spring have such promise. In that first week, the saps are rising outside and in me and I get a definite feeling that Something is going to happen.


But nothing is happening. I'm completely, absolutely sick to death of living here, and the future days hours minutes of having to live here are suddenly pressing down on me, as they do from time to time. Turkish politics are a circus, as are American. Every night, I give LE a bath in water that keeps running orange for some reason and it pisses me off. My in-laws continue to be an alternately whining, alternately authoritative presence that just won't go away no matter how much I wish they would. Strangers keep giving me stupid advice about how I do everything wrong with my son then try to touch his mouth. Prices keep shooting up, even for the orange water. I'm sick to death of the same fruits and vegetables I've been eating since November. And spring just makes me think that it will be summer soon, with long sweltering days that I've never quite adjusted to, in which all the windows will have to be kept open to fully let in the sound of the mosque that keeps getting louder (I realized yesterday as I was passing next to the mosque that it's the same volume right next to it as several blocks away, I guess due to an echo effect of all the identical, ugly, luridly colored buildings), as well as the grime from outside and the occasional pigeon. Last year a pigeon came in (and it's always the nastiest, mangiest, sickest-looking ones that come in) and flew straight into the back bedroom where I was on the computer. It scared me half to death with the sudden sound and I managed to trap it in the bathroom before calling my husband at work in a panicked rage, telling him to do something about the pigeon right away. I must have been hating living in Turkey on that day as well, because I remember the sub-text of that conversation was 'Your damn country has sent one of your damn greasy, lice-infested flying rats through these damn Turkish windows that swing open like doors and can't be opened partially and I'm stuck out here alone with the baby in these damn suburbs of this polluted shithole city...' You get the point. My poor husband takes the brunt of these I-hate-living-in-Turkey times, partly because he's the only living representative that I have close by to vent on, but also it's because of him that I'm stuck here and can't go home. So sometimes everything is all his fault. Even pigeons.


In his defence, he dealt with the pigeon quite effectively by sending the barber from the downstairs shop up with a bag and a broom, who neatly dispatched of said pigeon without even waking the baby. I almost forgave the barber for failing to acknowledge my existence with more than a shy nod when passing on the street even though he knows damn well who I am and even though my husband spends hours with him in his shop, not to mention the occasional man-nights-out, from which I'm automatically excluded because, by Turkish Man Law, guys like the barber are forbidden from looking at or speaking to me out of respect for my husband. And that's another damn thing I'm sick of about living here, that I should just be happy staying at home day after day, night after night, while my husband is free to relieve himself of being a father whenever he wants to go out with the guys, who are all presumably abandoning their wives at home as well, and whose wives are presumably okay with this as their lot in life forever and ever. Of course, I'm not overly keen to leave LE for a night on the toot, and I know those days are over for a long, long while. Still, I can't help but resent having my face rubbed in the fact that a bit of outside, alcohol-fueled fun is not even a possibility, that I'm tied to home, that I'd better learn to like it, and perhaps I should learn to love ironing and endless börek-making while I'm at it, because there's fuck-all else to do.

Bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch. That's why I haven't been posting lately, because any post I start to compose in my head goes the way this one is going, on an endless expanding loop of why everything sucks and why I'm sick of it here and why it's all Turkey's fault, as though I'm the first mother in the world to get a bit resentful missing her old life, or the first foreigner in the world to get homesick. As though to prove the point, LE is crying for me again because I've been away from him for an entire 30 minutes, and even though his father is with him and eager to play, it simply will not do for a small fellow who has to have at least visual contact, if not continuous physical contact of some sort with his mommy approximately 21 hours a day. Also he's probably hungry and since I seem to be the only one around here who knows what he eats, I'd better get going.

Sigh.

12 comments:

siobhan said...

Sorry you feel so bad. I'm sure things are going to start to change quite dramatically over the next few months. D is only 9 months older than LE and I can leave him all day with his dad, someone else (carefully selected by me) can put him to bed, I'm even considering leaving him overnight the next time I'm home. Things with your family won't be like this forever. I can't offer any words of consolation on the lines of life in Turkey improving much though

madeleine said...

You don't know me that well so you can take this with a grain of salt, but sometimes geography offers a mini solution. When we lived in Maslak with the constant noise and traffic and wankers in SUVs I hated everything. I couldn't even walk anywhere because the road by my house was famous for prostitutes and I apparently have an overwhelming whorishness about me that pervs just can't resist pulling over and commenting on. I was seriously on the verge of becoming an axe murderer.

But then we moved to the Asian side and while there are still a lot of sucky things life is a lot more tolerable. I walked home all the way from the start of the bridge after dark today and was not propositioned or harassed even once!!!! It also created a significant distance between my in-laws and us which has actually made our relationship tolerable. And there are a lot of nice people with young children around here (as you know) who could help make the days pass in a much more enjoyable way.

I know your husband's not crazy about the idea of moving over here but maybe there's a way to persuade him. We would be happy to help you look around. In fact, if you tell us what kind of things he likes we can help you make the Asian side look a lot more attractive! Besides, we love to look at houses. We pretend we might actually be able to afford one someday.

Seriously. Just give me a call if you want help!

Anonymous said...

I have also had a similar 'I hate everything day' and have in fact asked my husband for a divorce several times today! Don't worry there are lots of us dotted around the city privately fuming at all the frustrations Istanbul throws at us. It sounds as if you are quite depressed. Is there any possibility of planning something to look forward to, a short trip outside of Turkey into Europe (proper Europe) for example?

Stranger said...

Hee, Proper Europe! Nice one. I'm reading an Umberto Eco book right now and it's gotten me all obsessed with Italy again. I even turned on RAI Uno this morning to see if I can still understand any Italian. I can't really. But what I wouldn't do to go there again...

Moving is said to be happening, but in-laws have managed to dominate the last few weekends so we haven't been able to get over to look. Sometimes I'm afraid a new place/neighborhood will just create a new set of problems/annoyances I haven't thought of, but more optimistically, I think it'll make all the difference in the world for us, most of it for the better. I used to get the whore treatment and curb-crawling a lot in Bakırköy. Getting away from that, among other Bakırköy things, made a huge difference about life here.

And I know things with LE will change. It just sometimes seems slow getting there. On the other hand, when he suddenly develops a lot of interests besides Mommy, I'll probably be really sad and miss it when he followed me around everywhere and played at my feet, holding my trousers with one hand.

As for the in-laws and anything changing... sigh. Everything that happens with them is as repetitive as the Lego thing, only really frustrating and not at all delightful and it's been this way since I was about 6 months pg. I have a feeling the only way things will change is if I never have to see them.

These fed-up days (or weeks, sometimes) come and go, but thanks for all the nice comments!

Anonymous said...

I'm really sorry you feel like that but I know exactly what you mean. We lived in Fethiye (Mugla) for 4 years before coming to live in Bursa and the lifestyle was so so different to life here. Ok the shopping's better but as you say, it's a bit tricky to have a night out on the tiles here 8with or without a baby in Bursa) unless you're husband's with you, yet it's fine and normal for him to do the same with his friends.

I think a change of Geography will help - we're about to move to a lovely place with our on garden which is good on 2 levels - great to get away from nosy neighbours and great to be at least a bus ride away from in laws. However it doesn slightly scare me that perhaps the inlaws will come and visit for overnight trips.... we'll just have to beat them to it and go there for dinner sometimes.

Our plan is ultimately to move back to Fethiye - it's possible to have a wonderful life in Turkey but for us, city life isn't it. We won't go back to working in tourism - hopefull my husband's business can move with us. For me, Turkish city life has the downsides of living in London (long hours, commute etc) with non of the upsides (great bars, fab restaurants, going for a drink after work with friends). I know Istanbul is better than Bursa in this respect, but is it really so different outside of Beyoglu? I don't know.... I miss the Med.

If you can talk to your husband and really get a commitment regarding moving then personally I feel that a change of environment helps.

Good luck!

Vicky

entrailicus said...

Hang in there. Life is monotonous with little'uns but it does get better.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it's 'proper Europe anonymous' again. I do feel sorry for you with the in-law situation. Luckily my in-laws are very nice but I have no idea how and if they would change if I had a child. Probably just as well they live hundreds of miles away! I think your main hope with this is that one of your husband's siblings will produce a second grandchild. The attention would suddenly shift from you and your child and the frequency of weekend visits should reduce!

Stranger said...

My MIL definitely underwent some enormous change when the baby came. We'd gotten along more or less fine prior. I mean, she's always seemed to think I'm 10 and somehwat feeble-minded, doing things like trying to tuck in my shirt or button my coat, but she went really apeshit when LE came, and hasn't quite calmed down since.

And you read my thoughts exactly about hoping BE's brother will get married and have a kid soon, just to take the pressure off and give MIL a new hobby!

In a way, I think it's really sad-- my MIL is only about 48 (not even old enough to be my mother, actually!), but now that her kids are raised and out of the house, Turkish culture doesn't leave her with much. I mean, a house can only be so clean, and only so much börek needs to be made. I don't think she has many friends outside of family, and she's probably really, really bored. It must suck to be put on a shelf and rendered sort of useless at 48!

I founds her some volunteer work with kids at a state orphanage near her house, but no dice.

And entrailicus, you're right about the monotony, but there's also a lot of good stuff and it'll just get better, I think. Probably it's also better to be bored with assembling the Legos than dealing with real problems, like discussing drugs and STDs...

siobhan said...

And would you rather be spoon-feeding your own sweet little boy or 25 unwilling, immature prep students?

Stranger said...

Hee! I've often thought about what a lovely experience spoon feeding has become! It's really the only kind that's acceptable. LE is already way more advanced than the prep students-- he'll only eat sweet things from the spoon, otherwise he whacks it from my hand and eats the food himself. If only there were a way to get this kind of autonomy from the 'adults' I used to teach...

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Hmm, I think we may have Turkified you more than you realize. I say this because many of these problems can be fixed by money, and Americans tend to understand this and tend to have -- sometimes unwarranted -- faith in people's ability to make enough of it and use it in such ways to fundamentally improve their lives.

The other commenters (including the comments that disappeared) are right: if you can throw money at Istanbul, she's likely to deliver the lifestyle you want. Airconditioners can be had, neighbourhoods where a somewhat more western lifestyle is the norm can be found, double/triple glazed windows can be installed to make noise disappear, and the home country can be visited more often etc. etc. Easier said than done, of course, but there are ways, at least in theory, to avoid/fix many of the problems you mention except, perhaps, the MIL.

Stranger said...

Thanks, Bülent. You're kind of right, because it never once occurred to me to buy an air conditioner. We are planning on moving, but not so much to be somewhere more 'Western,' but just to be more central-- we only moved out to the suburbs because of my work, and since I'm not working, there's no point in being out here anymore. The trick is finding somewhere more central we can afford! At times I'm jealous of some of my foreign friends who have enough money to carry on like they don't really live here, but the truth is, even if I had that kind of money, I don't think I would spend it in that way. More trips home, perhaps, but that's it.

As for the disppeared comments, I only just discovered I have the power to delete comments! I feel very mighty. Nonetheless, I only plan to delete stupid ones like those, that don't really add anything and are just there to be mean or because some loser out there feels a need to try to be clever. That's what forums are for-- let them flame there all they want. I still don't plan to delete comments of people who I piss off or who disagree with me, so long as they have something valuable to say...