Monday, May 30, 2011

Turkish Waiters, and A Complete Failure At Getting LE To Enjoy A Beloved Movie

I tried to get my kid into Mary Poppins tonight, and I realized why I always hear this music in my head whenever I go to a nice restaurant in Turkey.

Died of a mysterious virus in 1977, aged 21
Perhaps it's because a normal four-year-old's attention span is often akin to that of a gnat that the boy couldn't care less about Mary Poppins. Or perhaps it's because there were no bad green witches in it, like in The Wizard of Oz (he was rapt for most of that). Mary is a rather disappointing witch by comparison, if she even is a witch but she might just be a magic nanny. It even could have been that our copy of Mary Poppins is complete crap, a DVD made from the VCR cassette my parents recorded for us off Showtime when I was like10, and the sound is a second or so ahead of the picture, and rather tinny at that. It could even be because Mary Poppins  is way overrated in my mind because the first time I saw it was at a drive-in, and it was the first time I'd ever hear consciously heard British accents, or at least kids with British accents.

Surprisingly talented
Or maybe it was because I'm one of those obnoxious assholes who feels compelled to not only say all the lines of certain movies, but also to sing along, and five minutes into the film LE was punching my arm and demanding candy and bedtime. Except I was doing the same for the Wizard of Oz and he watched that through to the end, and looked both thrilled and faintly disturbed the whole time, as one would expect. He's still upset about the flying monkeys, and he failed to share my love of the Tin Man but that's okay. He's only four. I'm actually still upset by the monkeys, mostly because they're dressed like the guys here that sell ice cream. I won't force him to grow into liking the Tin Man, as there are certain preferences in life a mother needn't push, preferences which will surely flourish on their own without my help. Or not. I'm cool with it either way.
Love me

As for the waiters, I used to wonder how unemployment could be so high in Turkey given the number of staff at every restaurant, office, and other given place of business. Our office has a woman whose job it is just to tidy the tiny kitchen, make tea and coffee, and bring hot drinks to the director, assistant director, and guests. Whenever any of us tidies up after ourselves she gets a little resentful, as though we're implying she can't do her job right when in reality, it's because few of us are comfortable with servants. She spends a lot of time snoozing on the sofa, which is probably partly because she has a child under two at home and partly because it can't be a very interesting job.

But at least it's a job. I would sure hate for her to become redundant. Same for all the extra waiters in restaurants, or the extra shop assistants, or the kids slinging tea in industrial areas, or the 42 extra guys standing with shovels around any work site. I suspect a lot of these guys are relatives of the owner, or of other workers, and someone was just kind enough to give them a job for the day or for the week because unemployment is really that bad. Sometimes I drop my trash on the ground just to make sure the guys who sweep the streets by hand, with brooms, still have work to do. The fact that most of these guys are working is probably just artificially deflating unemployment statistics, since any one of them are probably let go on whatever whim or necessity that arises, and I doubt most of them are getting state health.

Which means that the service can be extraordinary when you order a 3 lira lahmacun, or if you're brave enough to walk into a shop with no other customers. It's something I'll never be comfortable with, because I don't think I've really done anything to earn that kind of attention from people.
Some things haven't changed much
One of my old friends used to ask the kids waiting tables how old they were. They were always sixteen, with cracking voices that hadn't changed all the way yet.

So the post started off funny, with the penguins, and ended up not so much so.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

More Women, More Wine: An Argument For Polyandry and Drinking

So a couple of weeks ago I was ranting on about how individual Turkish people seem to care very deeply about what the outside world thinks of Turkey, and how the government or the Establishment or the Man or whatever appears to not give a shit.

The fact that this article, "Istanbul Consultant Suggests Allowing Polygamy" was published in English (as well as Turkish) kind of proves my point. Here are some gems:

The celebrated author, bearing the smug look of a first wife.
“A man looks for friendship, sexuality, motherhood and good housekeeping qualities in a woman. Unless you possess these attributes, you ought to be ready for being cheated upon. This is a righteous search for a man,” said 35-year-old Sibel Üresin, who has worked for the largely conservative municipalities of Fatih, Ümraniye, Bahçelievler and Eyüp, among others. “A healthy woman who analyzes what she will have to go through in the case of a divorce should, in my opinion, consider polygamy as a form of salvation.”

"Polygamy is already a fact of life because 85 percent of men already cheat anyway, according to Üresin."

Honestly, had they not published this in the English edition of Hürriyet for me to post on Facebook for all my friends to alternately snicker at or be rightfully horrified at, there's a good chance I wouldn't have even heard about it until the whole discussion was two weeks out of fashion, at which point I never would have blogged about it because I don't want my imaginary readers to think I'm uncool. No, wait. They probably already think I'm uncool, but I don't want to be the kind of uncool that gets upset about something that's, like, so last week.

I don't real feel a need to air my views on what all this says about women. I mean, I do feel a need, but whatever I would say would be boring and obvious.

Instead, I'll jump to the logically following notion that what all this says about men is almost (but not quite) equally as sickening. Does Islam, and let's not pretend it's not Islam behind this, I don't care how fucking liberal you are, does Islam, oh okay, Mormons too and also some other people but they're almost always religious, does Islam really take such a dim view of men, that they're all animals barely keeping it in their pants, at all times ready to mistreat women? Are all men really such shits that insufficient blow jobs, undercooked chicken, and being a grouchy mommy is reason enough to betray one's spouse or partner and mother of one's child(ren)?

I know, and I have known, a lot of men. About half the people in my life are men, because about half of the people in the world are men. Most of them are good men because they are good people. Very few of them are complete shits, and those that are shits are probably only that way because they think they're supposed to be shits, for whatever reasons.

So this doesn't really match up. When I think of men I think of my father and brothers and son and grandfathers and uncles and friends and cousins and colleagues and complete strangers and literary constructs and virtual folk and statistics. Taking this view that men are all the sort of people who would, by nature, deeply hurt the women in their lives by betraying them and exposing them to STDs because of improperly washed socks, is the kind of thing that just turns my world upside down in a not-fun way.

This part is tangential.
And I prefer any world upside-down-turning to be the fun kind, thank you very much. Like when I learned ancient Greek and Roman statues used to be painted, or that dinosaurs were more bird-ish, or that Pluto isn't a planet anymore, or that I can push a baby out my vagina then milk comes out of me and then everything turns out fine and the baby turns into a person who will one day be of the man sort.

The idea that the fish who used to live in my tummy and get the hiccups in there will, by nature, become the kind of person who doesn't think women are people too, well, that just really creeps me out. And it creeps me out enough that the fish who used to live in my tummy turned out to be a boy. That's another thing that turned my world upside-down.


Our dear Sibel goes on to add, bafflingly enough:

“Polygamy exists in our religion. Not everyone can do it, but you cannot ask someone why they did it; that amounts to polytheism. It is written in the Quran,” Üresin said."

Uh-huh (imagine I just wrote "uh-huh" very slowly, otherwise it's not funny).

Apparently the Quran needs to get a dictionary and look up the word "polytheism," because I'm pretty sure what it wants to say is "sacrilege." Or "apostasy." It depends what the Quran is on about here, which is not at all clear. If my student wrote this in the Quran, I would mark "polytheism" with "word choice" in red and give it a lower grade if it were the final draft.

Now, I haven't read the whole Quran but I'm pretty sure it doesn't say in there you can't ask a polygamist why he is a polygamist. Just like I'm pretty sure it doesn't say in there that powerful people have a moral obligation to stop regular people from looking at stuff on the Internet.

Open Letter To Religion: 

Dear Religion,

You know what would have been really cool? If your books made sense. And also if you quit trying to rule the world because quite a few of your ideas are really fucking boring.


Ironically, it's a Selma that blurred the cigarettes
Lastly, a final thought from Sibel Hanım, curse her for ruining the name "Sibel" for me, just as I curse Selma Aliye Kavaf for spoiling both the name "Aliye" and for making me think of her, instead of Selma from the Simpsons:

"Men go after women who are more flirtatious, laugh more and who can satisfy them sexually.”


Me, in the 5th hour of TOEFL proctoring today.
I just got a crazy idea. As long as we're going around completely changing the words in the Quran towards our own ends, how about I just go ahead and completely change the words in this quotation to my own ends?

"Women go after men who are more flirtatious, laugh more and who can satisfy them sexually."


Woman behavior could very well be like people behavior, just as people behavior could very well be like chimp behavior!

Now this next bit from our dear life coach just doesn't need changing because it's what I've been meaning to get at this whole time.

"If I were a man, I would have been polygamous.” 

When I was but a wee lass, I used to wish and pray every night I would wake up a boy. There are lots of reasons for this. I'm sure you can imagine some of them, but even at that tender age I totally got what was true.

It may be an insurmountable truth, but at least it's a good song

The fact that I didn't become a man, plus the whole Santa Claus thing, is definitely one of the bricks in the wall.

Marriage: It's just not natural
Look, I'm pretty sure that marriage is a crock of shit. I mean, kudos to everyone who has managed to sustain a more or less happy marriage, because as far as I can tell, the only reason marriages survive is either a) because the people in them do lots of good things for each other, which they would do whether they were married or not, b) economic reasons that prevent one of the partners from leaving, or c) religiousness, or cultural remnants thereof.

Wishing I were a man won't get me anywhere, so I'll just have to be happy with turning the tables. Here's why I think women in Turkey need multiple husbands:

1) There should be at least 3 husbands entirely concerned with the sexual aspect of the polyandrous marriage, because women are very complicated. I apologize for mentioning this in what is supposed to be a family blog, in that members of my family read this blog, but fuck it. I'm almost 40 and we're all grown-ups here and if I'm allowed to say "fuck" then I'm allowed to do it too.

2) Another husband could concern himself with making sure the bills are paid because the actual logistical bother of paying the bills with the money I earn is a pain in the ass. This husband could also be in charge of going to the market if he turned out to be adept at selecting produce.

3) A further two or three husbands could be put in charge of homemaking and the boring bits of child-rearing. When they start bitching about how hard it is and that it's too much work for three people, and how it's mind-numbing and invalidating, I could just remind them that in a regular marriage I would be in charge of doing all of the above, plus working full-time so shut the fuck up or I'll get rid of all the other husbands and you can see what it's like.

4) A guy who fixes things really, really well.

This would leave me lots of time to play games with my kid and write do lots of good things for my husbands and grow a garden and watch stupid movies on TV and herd goats and have a social life or whatever because everything irksome about my life would be taken care of by someone else that I didn't have to pay.

Too much of a good thing? Or just too much?
Because that's what the polygamist fellows here are getting from just one wife. What the hell makes them think they need several more? What the hell makes them think they even deserve just the one wife?

I can sure see what it is that makes these guys cling to the Stone Age ideas in their old-ass books that make no sense. I would too, if I were a man.

Now, I admit I took some of Ms. Üresin's comments out of context. Here's the whole context:

""If I were a man, I would have been polygamous,” said Üresin, arguing that legalizing polygamy would empower women who are already engaged in polygamous marriages."

Wife good!
In the beginning of the article, it mentioned that Ms. Üresin cited both religious and secular reasons in support of polygamy. I think this bit above must be the secular part. While I could only actually advocate legalized polygamy if it also included legalized polyandry, let's not forget that none but the first wives in polygamous marriages have anything remotely related to the legal rights I'm sure Ms. Üresin enjoys, if she is married. Why should she care if her husband has other wives to take care of the boring stuff while she gallivants around handing out advice and appearing in newspapers when she's entitled to half of what her husband has, and everything if he dies, while the other wives are entitled to jack and shit and jack left town?

I totally stole that line from Army of Darkness. It was on purpose.

    In Turkish, it's Bay Parlak Pantalon

In conclusion, drinking wine makes people feel a whole lot better about a lot of things, even if it's just for a short while. And that's how I've related the post to its title and I don't want to hear anymore about it.
Wine good!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thousands? A Post In Which I Get All Ranty About A Lot Of Stuff But I'm Just Thinking About The Children

The mainstream media are reporting that thousands of people attended an anti-censorship demonstration this past Sunday.

This is just in Taksim, where they marched from the Meydan to Tünel, which is 15 to 20 city blocks.

Now, I don't know what "thousands" implies to other people. Technically, I suppose it could apply to any number over 2,000. But since there are also things like "tens of thousands" or even "over 10,000" in our vocabularies, it seems to me that referring to the numbers of anti-censorship demonstrators in probably every big city across the country, plus a lot of small ones, as "thousands" is deliberately downgrading the whole thing, making it a fringe annoyance, as though anyone who could be worried about Internet censorship must be either a crazy leftie-throwback or an angst-ridden delikanlı upset that his Internet porn and chat rooms are being taken away. Because, you know, anyone who likes reading stuff on the Internet must be some sort of deviant.

And maybe the demonstrations weren't as Earth-shattering as I hoped. I'd hoped they'd rock our broad-minded and forward-thinking leaders to the very core, causing them to reverse the whole stupid Ruin the Internet for Everyone plan before today. At the very least, I'd hoped they'd planned to announce and then cancel the censorship thing to pander for votes.

No dice.

Here's one thing I keep thinking about. I keep imagining a day in the future, having a foreign friend come to visit and we're sitting together watching TV or I'm going through some sort of ridiculous online contortions to "open" the Internet so my imagined foreign friend can read some innocuous thing. And then my imagined foreign friend says something like, "Why is all this stuff blocked and blurred out in Turkey? Well, I guess it's a Muslim country after all..." (A lot of my imaginary friends are liberal like me, with a certain sense of moral relativism when it comes to international travel).

Wait, Imaginary Friend! This is not okay! The needle of my liberal  moral relativism compass has just reached its Not Okay Zone! Granted, that zone also includes female circumcision, whale-killing, animal torture, forced marriage, bound feet, state-controlled gentrification/relocation, honor killings, and cannibalism, so it's hard to say where, exactly, the Not Okay Zone starts but I definitely know what's in the Not Okay Zone.

Turkey is supposed to have a reputation  of being a "cool" Muslim country. Yeah, they're Muslim, and yeah, there are sectarian issues and covered women and the call to prayer, but in the end, Turkey is somewhere you can go to experience "the East" without all the stonings and beheadings and secret homemade basement booze. Plus, they use the Latin script so that's really helpful, and everyone is just so nice, so what's not to like?

What is a Turk?
I, and every other foreigner I know, have had many conversations that start something like, "What do people in (your country) think about Turks and Turkey?" A German person or a Swedish person or even a British person might have an answer for this, but as an American person, my answer is *blink blink* because in America, pretty much no one I ever talk to has any opinion about Turks and Turkey. No one thinks about Turkey in America. Some people know where Turkey is, and many know it is a country whose name we were supposed to know even before the Iron Curtain fell. Very few people I know have actually seen Midnight Express, and if they have, it was around the time it came out (1978). I've never seen it myself, and I admit I often confuse its title with Midnight Run and Midnight Cowboy. So.

Does this symbolize Turkey?
Sometimes American people ask me, "What language do they speak in Turkey?" and the only time I enjoy answering that question is when I want to make the person I'm talking to feel stupid. A very few people say something like "I/my friend/my dental hygienist's sister-in-law went to Turkey about 20 years ago. I/he/she had a great time and everyone was very nice and even though it's Muslim it wasn't like visiting a Muslim country at all."

Even this baddie is kind of hot!
So, given that so many individual Turkish people appear greatly concerned about Turkey's image abroad, the Turkish government seems to not give flying fuck about it. The government seems to adhere to the principle of "Turkey is the greatest and most powerful wonderful country on earth and if you don't know that, it's just because you're a slave to anti-Muslim/anti-East/anti-Turk/pro-Kurdish/pro-Armenian/Christian EU and/or Zionist propaganda."

The government seems to do a lot of stuff that not only shows no regard for actual human Turkish people, most of whom live well outside their imaginary, prescribed demographic boxes, but they also do stuff that appears to contain the twisted notion that the world outside will gaze in admiration upon the Democratic Republic of Turkey with great respect for the perfect and forward-thinking mandates it applies. Other countries who seem to think like this include China, North Korea, and Iran, and perhaps countries a lot of Americans aren't sure are real or not, like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. You know, those scary closed countries with low literacy rates or such heavily censored media that not many people in them have much of an idea of the world outside.

Click me! I contain tiny enlightening statistics!
Sadly, the only news that usually makes it out of Turkey on any mainstream scale is the stuff that's funny, and worth posting for a giggle on Facebook. Check it out, you can't be artificially inseminated with foreign sperm in Turkey, way to protect a pure race! Hey, did you see how that Turkish Prime Minister put all those poncy international whatever guys in their place by repeatedly interjecting "van minut!" into the debate? News from Turkey: Goat Shoots Man. Wow, Turks are the only people in this list of 34 developed countries who believe in evolution less than the Americans! Please "Like" my post about how you can't have "sister-in-law" in your domain name in Turkey, because they're really thinking about their children over there (but my goodness, what are they thinking about their sisters-in law?)"

And I'm not at all saying that the people who snicker at this stuff have some sort of anti-Turkey prejudice. Based on the Dubstep grandpa alone, there are a lot of people who have a very favorable view of Turkey. At worst, they might think Turkey is passionate but ultimately harmless.

Coming full circle here, really-- I've gone a bit ranty, I admit, but there's more to come, not to worry.
Except now it's getting a bit creepy. Or maybe it always was creepy and I'm just noticing it more now, it's hard to say. But this Internet censorship thing, although it seems funny at first because WTF is Adrianne and why am I banned from her, it isn't funny at all and it's kind of chilling. Chilling the way they're pulling it off, chilling that this is not at all the first step towards Something That Can't End Up Good For Turkish People, chilling that there's really fuck-all to be done about it, and the worst part is that it's the kids that are going to get hurt. The grown-up kids, I mean. The students and young people. The ones that get all fired up when you tell them that they can't have porn or Adrianne, because according to their prescribed demographic box they couldn't possibly be interested in anything else on the Internet. They're ones who are going to take their best minds out of Turkey first chance they get because there's not much good for them here, and certainly not a lot of ethical ways to make money. Those are the ones getting gassed and beat up and goodness knows what else. They're the ones to whom I pretend to stress the importance of future perfect progressive, the ones I can't help worrying about.

This caddis fly shows that caddis flies have gone unchanged since the beginning of fly fishing, because God wanted it that way.
Oh yeah, that's right. I'm thinking of the children here and I'm not afraid to say it because I know this whole censorship thing is All About The Children. I'm thinking of the children I see crawling around in trash bins looking for bits of wire and broken glass, and the ones feverishly memorizing, for a stupid exam, a bunch of crap they'll mostly forget in 3 months. More honestly and selfishly I'm thinking of my own child who's probably going to grow up here for awhile so maybe I'm invested enough to have some say, if that's all right with you. My son might someday want to know what a condom is, but be too embarrassed to ask his old mom, and then find he can't learn it from the Internet either. Or when he has a school project on evolution and the only thing he can find online is the Atlas of Creation. Or maybe when he has some sort of critical thought, and he goes to look it up on the Internet, then finds he can't, and I'll be able to tell him, "Don't worry, sweetheart. If you can't find it on the Internet, it's a thought you shouldn't be having anyway and it is some sort of decadent fantasy. These aren't the droids you're looking for, move along."

At least I can abdicate to the state my parental responsibilities like teaching him personal accountability, self-control, and responsible behavior.

I want to be in the Lost Generation
And so I have another glass of wine (whine?) because WTF else are you going to do? I'm still naive enough to be looking for my Ernest Hemingway Ford Maddox Ford Scott and Zelda Talented Mr.Ripley Oscar Wilde expat cool kids high-class drinking buddies and I'm not finding them, but anyway. And with this fine glass of downright drinkable 6.99TL on sale at Carrefour liquid haram, I'm thinking about why, when Turkey decides to pose itself on the international stage as a Muslim-identified country, does it go for a host of new repressive laws and regulations? In fact, what is it with Muslim countries all being like this?

And then I'll just go ahead and spread the insult all over the place and wonder why any country that identifies itself strongly with a religion, any religion, and yeah I'm talking about you whackjob Christians in America I'll very much miss looting this Sunday when the Rapture comes, because you guys have all the good stuff and the guns, but also you truly wicked Catholics in Latin America and Africa, and you too Israel, why does any strongly religion-identified country have to do horrible things and call it love of God and morality and family values when everyone knows it's about something else entirely?

Can't we just all outgrow this shit already?

Here are some things that bore me to death about religion, and why religion has no business meddling in legislation:

1) The obsession with sex, sexuality, and the possibility that someone may be enjoying either in some way other than missionary style, lights off under the covers with someone of the opposite sex you're legally married to.

2) Building on 1), the obsession with the imagined purity of women who never fart or scratch themselves, women's sexuality, and the fact that they might have any sexuality that involves anything other than perhaps being pawed and then appropriately penetrated by a legally married husband for the purpose of making lots of babies. Lots of babies for whom the women might need to work in order to support, but for whom Good Family Values will prevent from doing so, officially anyway, and those that do work can expect no assistance whatsoever.

3) The obsession with fun stuff other than sex, like drinking and dancing and skin and hair and the meat of certain animals.

Bad. Bad bad bad bad bad and not modern
4) The issues religion has with thinking for real about the Universe and our place in it and where we came from and why.

5) I have lots of other issues with religion and otherwise, but those are the big ones for now.

I'm thinking of the children here. For the children, the Internet is the least of their problems. For Turkish children, and children everywhere, the Internet could be the best thing that's happened to them, and in any case, the Internet is inevitable no matter what kinds of censors are placed on it. I have the utmost faith in the Turkish youth who will immediately find simple ways to subvert stupid systems and make the government look ridiculous in the process. So there.

I have to wonder if anyone in power starts asking himself (or in the rare case, herself) if these steps being taken are really the best direction to be taking?

The Saddest Little Boy In The World, Reprise: and Some Animal Tales

It was because I wouldn't let him bring this cat home, which was because I'm the meanest mommy in the world.

So I let him take this picture of the cat. It's a nice cat, and has saved me the trouble of explaining where I think Gray Kitty might be. Gray Kitty (a gray cat other than this one), called Duman by the neighbors, is the nicest little gray cat. I once rescued her from a tree (she was within arm's reach up, stuck to the trunk, but just a kitten who found it all rather terrifying), and she followed us home and forever after was always whoring for a scratch and purring like it was the best day of her life.

Until she got knocked up, I'd thought she was a boy, which is rather stupid but I just never looked. She was lolling around the street most days right up until she popped, with a belly so big we could rest our hands on her sides and feel the babies squirming around in there. Cats in later stages of pregnancy are funny because they still think they can do things like leap gracefully up onto the top edge of the fence, but they totally can't.

Then she disappeared for about a week, and I checked up on her one weekend afternoon when a bunch of neighbor women were hanging out of their windows shouting up and down at each other and whoever was on the street. It was really funny because they were shouting stuff like, "How's it going, beautiful? Why don't you get yourself inside and dust already?"

One of the women had taken in Duman's babies as a sort of nanny, charged with caring for them while Duman went off and did her thing. She was mostly a grown-up cat, but still a little young for babies. If she were a person, she'd have been like 16. She'd had four, all of them living.

But last Monday on the way to work (LE was at his Babaanne's because he had a fever), a car screeched on its brakes, and there was a little crackling sound like someone thumping old sticks together. Duman bolted in front of me from the street, all puffed up, and I watched her disappear into a garden and I haven't seen her since. I knew it was her, because her bottom was still all gross from having babies.

I've heard that stick thumpy sound two other times-- once when my dog got hit during one of his many insane excursions across the 4-lane rush-hour street were I caught the school bus every morning. He survived the incident without any terrible injuries. After getting hit he got up and tried to escape back over a fence into someone's yard, as though the hit had triggered his doggy memory of his past abused life of getting hurt for trying to escape and he was trying to get back into the yard before he got in trouble. The other time I heard that sound was driving with my brother and some friends on a dark, deer-ridden road and we cracked over a little deer that really did jump out of nowhere. We were sure the poor deer was broken and murdered so we jumped out of the car to check the road, and all over and under the car, and the deer wasn't there.

After that, the deer always seemed to line the road malevolently, with their flashing rabbit eyes.

 So it's hard to say what happened to Duman. Maybe she was hurt, and maybe she wasn't but she hasn't been out.

My fantasy or LE's?
In any case, LE's been wondering about her lately, so I'm hoping this new cat distracts him for a good long time because, even though I've tried to be honest with him about most things (except Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the thing about how our service bus driver Ali Bey Grouchy Pants is actually a Secret Kung Fu Master at night), I'm really not ready to tell him unfathomably bad shit can happen like nice cats getting run over for no reason.

Yesterday, New Gray Cat grew more insistent in his pleas for love.

Thus, happiness is restored.
It's a good thing New Gray Cat is so distracting because LE needed to be distracted from what was going on half a block up the street. Paşa, a handsome German shepherd whose sick-fuck owners I curse for buying that poor dog, was off the two-foot chain he's always tied up to and locked in a silent, ripping fight with Black Dog (the nicest street dog ever, who practically knocks you over with his big smelly head-cuddles), while a man stood over them beating the shit out of Black Dog with what appeared to be the buckle-end of Paşa's black leather collar. Suddenly, explaining the possible death of Gray Kitty didn't seem so brutal anymore.

There's all this talk of censorship because of the plans our Good Leadership has to Ruin the Internet For Everyone on August 22. And I was thinking about the stuff I protect my kid from because there are just some ways in which his little world just doesn't need to be turned upside down yet. I mean, I can't make myself tell him until he needs to know, that there are people who beat dogs with belts and other people who do way worse things. I just can't believe, with all the large and small brutalities in the world, that there are people who think little boys seeing vaginas on the Internet is the worst thing that can happen to them.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


It looks a little like this, the Black Sea on an unseasonably cold spring day, with some haunted-looking sea thingy.
It gets better once the sun comes out. I told LE this is called the Black Sea, and he was all, "But Mama, it's blue!" Indeed.
Suddenly, everything seems like it's going to be okay, and it's the opposite of desolation.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everything's Going So Well!

My rudimentary attempt at editing someone else's movie clip, which I fortunately was able to find after lots of searching. This movie moment got stuck in my head following a break-time chat and an inside joke that I probably wasn't quite in on.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Cat Waiting For The Bus

And an adorable little boy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Optimism, Darkly

"... all governments can rule only as long as they receive replenishment of the needed sources of their power from the cooperation, submission, and obedience of the population and the institutions of the society. Political defiance, unlike violence, is uniquely suited to severing those sources of power."

Gene Sharp

"Yalancı,"posted on Facebook by Sistemin Kölesi Olmayın, 4 May, 7:45pm.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Trying My Hand At Vegetative Propagation

It's a fancy name for poking leaves into some soil to see if any of them will take and grow roots. These are African violets, so the outlook is good. At least, they're not dead yet so that's good.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sophomoric Cross-Linguistic Humor

It gets me every time.

Just grow up already, Stranger.

I would totally go to that cafe.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Crap I Found In the Snacks Cupboard

Sometimes I take photos intending to post something about them, then I never get around to it. A whole bunch of posts totally died when the old computer got stolen. Fortunately, we've got a snacks cupboard. I've been trying to clean it out lately, as there are some snacks in there I'm pretty sure are from Bayram 2 years ago.

First, a stray candy bar.

Or should I say Stray? The bottle cap is there for scale. It lived up to its name by tasting foul (I'm now thinking of the super smelly dog that lives on our street). Actually, the dog is quite nice but suddenly very stinky. We want to pet him and he wants to be pet but seriously, he's nauseating and I think he must have a festering skin disease somewhere. Poor guy. I noticed he got a new collar recently (he's the kind of street dog people look after because he's so nice), but no one seems to be sorting out the smell. Even if I knew what to do with a sick dog, I don't want to get too close.

The only reason I ate the candy bar was because it was a candy bar and it was there.

This one, with photo effects added by LE, is more fitting. I'd prefer dead, thank you very much.

Though perhaps an alive Stray could be trained to do tricks, it's hard to say. I just hope there's never a candy bar called Stowaway. I think it would bother me to find a Stowaway in my cupboard. There are some pizza crackers in there already making me very uncomfortable.

Yet, it's hard to express my joy at finding the Beeman's.

That's right. It's Pepto-Bismol flavored gum I brought back from the States last year and I freaking love it. Worryingly enough, it's still soft.

And that's all I'll be sharing of my cupboard today. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination. If it helps, I'll mention there's something in there that got buried way at the back. It might be those brown dried apricots that are supposed to be natural. Or it could be regular dried apricots. Or it could not be apricots at all. They made me think of this prose poem, by Carolyn Forché (1978):
The Colonel
What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.