Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Update On the Minutiae of Stranger's World

Everything is fine. Our new house is fine. I'm in love with it despite its obvious problems, like roof leaks and an there is an ongoing stinkiness under the kitchen cupboards (caused by BE improperly connecting the hose to the dishwasher, where it leaked and gathered there for days, undealt with because I thought the water was coming from the dishwasher and I wouldn't have been able to deal with it before the weekend, but fortunately I discovered the leaky connection and fixed it before it completely destroyed the cupboards. Goodness knows what's growing under there right now). Whereas most houses with these sorts of issues would make me want to move, this house just makes me want to love it and make it right.

The job is fine, too. The students aren't giving me much to poke fun about because they're clever and sweet, and the work is all right too. I'm wondering if being a mom has made me a slightly nicer teacher or if the kids really are extra nice. This is my first year of teaching where none of the students asked me how old I am on the first day of class, which means I've crossed an aging line of some sort. That's okay. It keeps them from expecting to be my friend. It also makes them seem childlike and cute, instead of like stunted adults. Then I realized most of them were born the same year I graduated from high school, and I was all "Yeah, I'm pretty fucking old," and then I was surprisingly okay with that. My friends are old too, so it's just normal. I'm sure I'll be less calm when the incontinence begins. I'm hoping by then I'll be too doddering to care.

I'm still on a little bit of Social Overload after those years of not getting out much. I've always considered myself a misanthrope and seemed to get along fine without much human contact, but now I'm all sort of stunned with the human contact, and I'm probably freaking people out by going around with this obvious Will You Be My Friend behavior.

LE and I adjusted to all the changes just fine. I'm a little tired all the time and LE gets a bit clingy, but that's all. BE is the one freaking out, steadfastly refusing to do much around the house and also refusing my dirty money. So I got a cleaner for once a week which solved much of the house problem, and I'm waiting for BE to come around on the money problem. Apparently my big fat salary is an assault on his manhood. At the same time, he is no longer asking for money from his dad (apparently getting parental handouts when you're in your 30s doesn't affect manhood at all). Which means when he manfully takes all the bills like he's going to pay them, he has no money so he lets the bills stew along with his ego. I only found out about this recently, when the second round of bills came and they were double because they were two months' worth.

I offered to pay them and got a classic BE reply, "I don't want your fucking money." Okay, then. It must be hard having your manhood rest on such tenuous scaffolding and tacit agreements about economic relationships. I, for one, have no patience for this shit, and I still haven't figured out how to get the bills paid. It'll probably require some sort of deft woman behavior that I also have no patience for.

Never mind. Soon enough BE will realize that he can go out and buy shoes whenever he wants. His soft spot for shoes is bigger than mine, though I've been being a clothes whore lately, and paying full price rather than waiting for the twice-yearly trips to US outlet malls and Nordstrom Rack. I lost loads of weight when I started working, plus some shops have added L and XL sizes that I can get into. Nice. I'm only slightly freakishly enormous now.

And I love love love our new neighborhood. It's so neighborhood-y, and such a welcome change from Beylikdüzü. Aside from the sea and small towniness, I adore the Atatürk statue in the square.

He's totally puttin' on the ritz.

Speaking of Atatürk, few weeks ago, during the tail end of the referendum campaign, there was an AKP rally in the square around the Atatürk statue. Sarıyer seems to be pretty firmly CHP (there's that special blend of religious/social conservatism and rabid nationalism here, which I expect is more common than we're led to believe in either the Turkish or foreign press). Erdoğan made an appearance and in the restaurant where we were eating, it was funny watching the waiters and BE tiptoe around feeling out each others' political and religious leanings before they happily (though quietly) launched into how much they despise our good leaders. Meanwhile, a few older guys scattered at the edges of the crowd made rude gestures to the speakers, or called out something critical, and they were quickly swarmed upon and disappeared by police, while clumps of scarved heads bobbed and politely shifted out of the way.

So actually that has nothing to do with Atatürk at all. I meant it as ironic, but then I got bored with hammering the point home. I was also going to say something about democracy, which would be both pointless and predictable, and anyway, I realized it would come out all wrong because people would assume I'm comparing Turkey to America in terms of democracy, which I'm not-- I'm just sick of AKP bandying the word around like they thought of it, or like they own it. Which at the moment, they kind of do.

So that's all I have to say about that, for the moment.

Speaking of democracy, I took a moment out of my busy day to learn the American election results, and it was kind of a relief. I mean yes, the bad guys won, but not many very of the worst of the bad guys. So that's fine. I'm so out of the American loop I didn't even know Jerry Brown was running for governor of California again, until after he'd won. Then for days I had "California Uber Alles" by the Dead Kennedys stuck in my head. After I finished wondering why Jello Biafra hated Jerry Brown so much (I decided it's probably because he pretty much hated everyone, especially anyone with power wearing a suit), I started thinking about how the Dead Kennedys are still really fucking good to listen to, and their punk-ass message still rings true.

Then it occurred to me that this is all because I'm getting old, and turning into a dinosaur of sorts. And that's okay too, because I get to listen to the Dead Kennedys, among other bands who were big before my students were born, and I'm not even talking about the Beatles this time. One of my students wrote a paragraph about how she loves Johnny Depp and I was all, "Oh, yeah! I've been in love with Johnny Depp since like 1984," and she was like, *blink blink*. So I didn't even get into "21 Jump Street," which I'm fairly sure TRT never aired anyway, no matter how long it was before the girl was born.

AKP and Jerry Brown aside, it's almost 5pm, which means it's time for a frosty glass of white wine, now 30% more expensive because AKP cares so deeply about our health. I'll have to remind them of that next time they want to raze a forest for another nepotistic project, or when all the corn and beets here become contaminated with Monsanto genes, not to mention the Round-Up itself getting everywhere else.



Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

there's that special blend of religious/social conservatism and rabid nationalism here, which I expect is more common than we're led to believe in either the Turkish or foreign press

Yes. This is different than what's -- IMHO erroneously -- called conservatism wrt. AKP. The 'special blend' you sense may have the potential to get scary if people are provoked and mobilized at a street level, and can cut through class lines to an extent. The 2007 Rallies for the Republic and crowds they managed to get is perhaps an example of one such attempt.

Stranger said...

Bülent, I often wonder why they aren't angrier, or more mobilized. Even my in-laws went to a Rally for the Republic in Taksim Square-- not at all like them, especially the MIL, who refuses to be cajoled into the Danger and Filth and Illness of Taksim for any other reason. Those rallies were largely peaceful, and seemed to go nowhere, unfortunately. But I wonder what will happen when all these people finally get fed up with being ignored, too. Or maybe they're just used to it.

I have a rant on this topic I'm saving for a future post.

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...


Even my in-laws went to a Rally for the Republic in Taksim Square-- not at all like them, especially the MIL, who refuses to be cajoled into the Danger and Filth and Illness of Taksim for any other reason.

Caglayan -- not Taksim. Yes, I realized that there was a huge turnout when I went out looking for a simitci and saw the crowd heading there on Halaskargazi cad. I then found out my neighbors went and was surprised. Then it turned out some of my friends went and I was even more surprised. Shows you how much I know about my country, doesn't it?

Those rallies were largely peaceful, and seemed to go nowhere, unfortunately.

They were peaceful indeed. Having said that, I should also say that I know someone from the 'net (headscarved wife) who almost got attacked by some rally-goers in a vapur. Of course our government knows to plant plain clothes officers everywhere when they truly wish there to be no incidents and one just popped up and made sure people remained sane (lovely, isn't it? ordinarily we'd complain about cops being everywhere and listening to what people are saying to each other). So:

I often wonder why they aren't angrier, or more mobilized.

You might also want to wonder how that anger can be channeled, what kind of political movement would exploit the mobilization and whether that would be good. Do you want a movement based on or catering to your in-laws' or husband's political views to run the government of this country? What would that mean for liberties here?

One of the main problems with the AKP is that those who oppose it are or can be even less liberal (in the Turkish, civil libertarian sense, not the US sense).

Stranger said...

Unfortunately it's always one extreme or the other, isn't it? Though I guess the AKP side is less extreme, because I'm much less likely to use the word "rabid" in relation to their adherents.

I suppose the Tea Party in the US is a best-case example of well-channeled anger in comparison to what could happen here.

I do wonder, though, where the middle ground is, or even if there is one.

Saving the rest for a future post...

Ayak said...

Ha! Why is it that these men just won't accept our money whenbills have to be paid? There are ways around it..I have learned. It's a case of having to because I want all the bills paid on time. I just use an on-line bank account and pay them from that...then "lose" the paper bills!

Bulent Murtezaoglu said...

Saving the rest for a future post...

That'll probably be a magnet for various anonymous commenters, but I know it won't deter you. Keeping this bit in mind is probably worthwhile:

... which I expect is more common than we're led to believe in either the Turkish or foreign press

Yeah journalism (and punditry) on such issues is uniformly bad here or abroad. The fun part -- which you'll notice too if you stay here another decade -- is that the same crowd spreads different kinds of untruths (aren't I tactful!) in different times and the same kind of people (though not the same people) look at them in awe.

In any event, just so I don't sound sound too pessimistic, lemme point out compared to other states that emerged from the Ottoman wreck (including those to our West) we seem to be doing fine. We seem to have avoided direct colonial rule, the Nazis, the Soviets, widespread civil wars and democracy-bringing foreign invasions. Looking at the visible intellectual class here I am tempted to attribute this success, as it were, to the mysterious powers of our nazar boncuks but perhaps there are people who really know what they are doing who work for us.