Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Ghost of Christmas Punny Pun Time, Yay!

There will be way more tomorrow.
Some of this tissue has seen 8 Christmases.
Merry Christmas to everyone who gives a shit about Christmas. If you don't, I still love you and wish you a fine day. It's just that our day of laying around in our jammies and watching movies and eating prosciutto will be way better.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Tally: Turkey Won A Little Bit

A Snowstorm

On Thursday, there was a tremendous snowstorm. It was supposed to come on Friday, and it wasn't supposed to be tremendous. And, in fact, in most parts of the city it wasn't tremendous. But out here, it was.

Since the snowstorm wasn't supposed to come until Friday, everyone, myself included, carried on as usual despite growing evidence to the contrary. I left home at 7.30 to get to work in time to start administering speaking exams at 8.30, with time left over for coffee, last-minute sorting out, some Facebook, and reading my horoscope. I've taken an inexplicable interest in horoscopes again after many years. Something has clicked in my mind that has made me unable to bear the slightest possibility of a completely unpredictable day. Not that my horoscope knew about the snowstorm. That would be asking too much. Maybe if I'd grabbed a passing stranger and asked him or her to look at my coffee dregs...

There was no minibus sitting warmly in its usual spot. The snow was flurrying and the wind was as strong as it had been all night. Some snow was starting to stick. A large-ish clump of people was waiting for the minibus, indicating that one hadn't been by for at least 15 minutes. So when an IETT bus came by, I just went and got on it.

The bus got stuck first because a service bus in had gone off the road and gotten stuck. The driver and some other men got out to help. A crazy woman on the bus continued to rant even though her seat partner left. Some of the guys outside clumped around the bus to share ideas about what to do. One attempted to direct traffic around the snarl, with all the drivers ignoring him and he almost got killed like 5 times but he pressed on doggedly. The service bus was saved and all the men came back, cheerfully rubbing their hands and stomping their feet and puffing their lips to show how cold it was. The crazy lady shut up and some other women, right on cue, began bitching at the driver in spine-wrenching high tones.

Please say something worthwhile.
Seriously, ladies, why do you have to do that? Just shut up, please. All you do is make annoying situations worse for everyone. No one gives a shit what you think about pointless things, and you make the rest of us look bad. By "us" I mean women with sense.

The bus got stuck again, behind another service that had gotten stuck. The same rescue drill was repeated, and the men were less merry when they came back.

The next time the bus got stuck, it got stuck for real. The driver came back from freeing a spun-out sports car and announced he wouldn't be going anywhere until the salt trucks came through. By then, it was 8.20. I had dutifully informed everyone involved with the exams that I would be late during the previous getting-stuck.

Luckily, a minibus came by. So I got off the bus and flagged down the minibus. Fortunately, minibus drivers have fewer rules and less regard for safety and human life than IETT drivers. We arrived at the university at more or less a skid the whole way. There were already students struggling on the roadside on the long walk from West Campus to Main Campus by this point.

Some decisions are worse than mine.
I'm not sure what prompts Rektör Bey to call a snow day. Like many of his exalted decisions, logic, reason, and obvious reality have very little to do with it.

There were a lot of students waiting around for speaking exams, and a lot of teachers who hadn't made it to school. I dealt with the ones on my list first, many of whom were my own students. Word got out through the rest of my class that I was giving speaking exams, plus to some other students, so I ended up giving speaking exams for a full three hours. It was treacherously boring, having the same conversation over and over with one nervous, shaking kid after another. Though in their defense, each kid managed to say at least one interesting thing about themselves or their thoughts on mundane topics that I didn't know.

I see your future, Vain Girl.
Everyone passed except one. Everyone got exceedingly high grades in speaking. Even the one who failed didn't deserve the 60% she got because most of what she said was in Turkish. But it was interesting to learn her parents were from Serbia. 14 weeks of telling her to quit filing her nails and checking her eye makeup in her iPhone and discussing her hair, and I never knew that about her. I also noticed she had giant peasant worker hands, so I guess she's got more on her plate than being pretty and looking for a good husband. She mentioned finding a husband as one of her academic goals.

So. The tally. 50 points to Bad Turkey for fucking my day with poor weather prediction. 50 points to Good Turkey for everyone being so darned helpful on the shitty roads. Another 10 points to Good Turkey for timely transportation opportunities. 30 points to me for the speaking exams, plus 10 points for showing pluck with public transport.

Getting Home: An Adventure!

An email announcement that school closed came a little after noon. I stayed on, trying to get as much work done as I could before the roads became too impassable. I still wasn't sure I could rely on Rektör Bey to close school the next day. We were supposed to be giving exams, and I was in charge of some of the exams being given.

I'll get home, no problem.
By 2.30, there were no more minibuses. I confirmed with the tea lady, the only person still in the office, that a staff service would be leaving an hour later. Still, I wanted to get going so I went outside to try my luck. I figured I could a) walk a ways until b) a suitable candidate for hitchhiking passed by and c) either got home or halfway there to a friend who lives up in the hills. I made sure my friend was cool with having me crash at his place. The adventure of it all sounded cool.

I found a service bus that was just leaving that I assumed was going to West Campus. I figured I could hook something up from there. There was a woman in a wheelchair on the bus, and I climbed over her folded-up chair to the empty seat in front, next to the driver. As we tooled along slowly and safely (the service bus drivers are ever so safe), I found out the service was going all the way to Sarıyer, so I messaged my friend that the adventure was over. I was a bit disappointed.

Not so bad...
We made it the place where the road splits two ways, with both roads going to Sarıyer. Cars and buses were scattered around the road, with a lot of guys walking around. Our guy got out to confer with another service driver who'd gotten stuck going up the hill. After awhile, he came back and announced, "Well, you all are walking." The wheelchair lady said, "What shall I do?"

Fucking great decision!
I begin weighing my options, which were considerably sweeter than the wheelchair lady's. My friend's house was a short-ish uphill hike back the way we'd come. My house was a long downhill hike crowded with drivers who still apparently didn't understand it was snowing a shitload. At my friend's house, there was good conversation and good food and central heat and a bunch of booze. At my house, there was just me and my stingy heating habits, meh food, and a bottle of gin. LE was at his grandmother's.

So I jumped off the service and started walking. It was pretty much a blizzard, mind you, with wind hard enough to make you lose your balance and falling snow that was more like biting ice crystals. I had to take off my glasses in order to see and the wind was against me as I trudged uphill.

After about 20 minutes, I started thinking about Little House On The Prairie. I judged it not cold enough to just die like kids managed to do every winter on that show. I had some gum and some Atomic Fireballs in my bag. My coat (bless my parents for that long-ago Christmas present!) is like a bed and I was sweating under it. I had leggings under my jeans, another blessing, but no gloves, hat, or scarf because I couldn't find my winter accessories that morning. We moved to this house in summer and I put all that stuff somewhere but I don't know where. I took some small comfort in the fact that I probably looked like a man from a distance, which made me less nervous about being alone at the side of a dead empty road in a snowstorm. I figured not many dudes would be feeling rape-y in that kind of weather anyway. My biggest danger would be a skidding car.

The walk started to seem a bit long. I found some sheltered spots a few times and tried to call my friend to tell him I was coming after all, but the phones had quit working. The electrical tower I was using as a landmark to the entrance of his apartment complex was well behind me. Later on, we figured out the road I should have taken, the one that would have made it a 20 minute hike, was so steep that no one had used it for hours, so it had been snowed over. I had seen the road I suspected might be it, but decided bow wasn't a good time to test out roads I wasn't sure of, so I ended up taking the scenic route.

I still knew where I was, even though I was surprised I had walked that far. I went into another apartment complex and saw what I thought was the little farm road that cut through to my friend's complex. There was a car there, so I asked the driver if it was the right road. He told me he was going to that same complex and to hop in, so I did. There were two other women in the car there, so it wasn't a scary thing to do, Mom and Dad.

Except he managed to get stuck, too. I hung out in the car for awhile and managed to get through to my friend. I asked him directions for the farm road. The driver had decided it was a good time to put on chains and he was mad as hell and cursing at the jack and the chains while the two women stood by advising him, which just made him madder. I decided not to bother him with thank-yous and just headed off to the farm road. There was a bakkal at the entrance and I confirmed the directions with some guys in there. First right first left. Easy.

Except those those roads were snowed over and also had no tracks. They were also riddled with 4-inch deep slush puddles. I discovered my boots were no longer waterproof. I got really lucky in that the first right had a spindly street sign on the corner, otherwise there was no other evidence of a road there. Someone had gotten stuck at the first left, leaving deep, slushy mud grooves at the turn. I found my friend's complex. On the way to his house, there was an open bakery so I bought some eclaires and had a cigarette.

The tally: 1,000 points to me for hiking over an hour through the storm and getting directions. 300 points to Good Turkey for a driver who tried to be helpful and for the bakkal and the bakery. 500 points to Bad Turkey for a total failure at accepting and dealing with a snowstorm.

I was still winning. But not for long.

Bureaucratic Bullshit

When I got to my friend's house and shucked my wet clothes had a pee and waited for the feeling in my face to come back, the message came from school that it would be closed the following day.

For the first time in my life, upon hearing of a Snow Day, I was all, "Ah, fuck."

It meant final exams would have to be re-scheduled. It meant all the work I had to do couldn't be done. There's an exam I haven't finished writing, plus a lot of grades that need dealing with, plus all this other crap I feel the weight of. When the fuck did I become the sort of person who regards a Snow Day as an inconvenience? Mother fucker. I hate myself a little bit. But we made the best of things. We had soup and prosciutto and Emmenthaler cheese and gin tonics. We played with the Internet and watched Merlin and a stupid Turkish game show on TV. I dealt with the flurry of emails about the exams.

And then I remembered a message I had received earlier in the day, a legal warning that my phone was kayıt dışı and would be cut off on Christmas Day. So, still sore and exhilarated from my snowy adventure, I decided to deal with that shit.

I called the number in the message. It wasn't working anymore. So I called Turkcell. After all, I've made them my bitch once before, so I was more than prepared to do it again.

Except they've changed to voice automation instead of pushing buttons. Naturally, the system couldn't understand me so after I few tried I resorted to assuring Turkcell it was about to become my bitch. Then it announced it was going to save me time by switching to a voice recognition system so I wouldn't have to tell them my father's name anymore for security. It wanted me to repeat an incomprehensible sentence. The only thing I understood from the sentence was "Turkcell." So I explained to it how it needed to go fuck itself until it gave me an operator. The first guy I got couldn't hear me. I explained my problem and he said a bunch of stuff. I explained that I'm foreign and couldn't understand him, so he said a bunch more stuff, even faster. He gave me number to message. We Googled it and discovered it was just to give me my phone's special number I had already found in my phone settings because he thought I was trying to unlock my phone.
I make the telephone machine work good.

So I called them back. I did the whole voice thing again with different bad words. The new operator was much nicer as he explained the whole thing the first guy explained. I realized I was misunderstanding "IMEI" (my phone's special number) as "email."

So I called back again and told the voice system a whole bunch of other shameful things and got a woman this time. She started telling me the same thing the first guys had, and I stopped her and told her it was something different and what did I need to do? She gave me a number to call in Ankara, and another number in case the first number didn't work.

The first number didn't work. The second number yielded a call center where they looked up my IMEI and found my phone was kayıt dışı. You know why? When I registered it at the tax office in the first place, back in September, the tax guy didn't notice my residence permit was expired. I was relieved at the time, knowing it would be awhile before it got renewed. But whatever pointless government office in charge of these things noticed three months ofter the fact that my residence permit was expired, and then gave me 5 days (2 of them non-working weekend days) in a snowstorm to get a bunch of photocopies to ship them via cargo to show my residence permit had been renewed. The photocopies aren't hard. But they also wanted a dilekçi.

Hello, this is 1432. We want our bureaucratic processes back.
Fucking dilekçi. What is it with these things? Can we please just join the 21st century already? And for that matter, isn't my residence permit renewal recorded digitally somewhere? Is it so fucking hard to look that up? Or just go all 20th century and make a fucking phone call to the foreign police?

Apparently, yes. Yes, it is so fucking hard. I explained to the woman that this whole process was a complete bitch to finish in 5 days because I was snowed in and the weekend was nigh and couldn't they have let me know sooner? She said some stuff that gave me to understand she was just a call center lackey so I thanked her and moved on.

... Safety Pumpkin: An Aside

Today, I got up early to go across town and fetch LE. Apparently the snow problem isn't a problem once you're out of Sarıyer. BE gave us a ride all the way to Beşiktaş, saving us metrobus unpleasantness. On the way, we had to pick up some of his clients he was taking to the hospital, a couple on their way to get an embryo implanted in the wife-- the last step of their test-tube baby fertility adventure. The woman was covered and dressed like a doll in a fuzzy red coat with porcelain makeup laid on so thick you couldn't tell if she was 23 or 53. The husband was just a guy. BE called them in advance to check if they minded if he was bringing his son and his...

"Eş," I said. "Just say eş. They don't want to know everything."
"... and his mother," he finished. Good one!

I keep you safe.
It was an okay BE day, actually. I told him about my snowy adventure and the exams bullshit and we were getting along fine with LE sleeping in the back. When we pulled off into Bayrampaşa to pick up the couple for the surgery, there was a pumpkin at the side of the road. It was a nice-colored, hilariously-shaped pumpkin. BE had to swerve to miss the stalled truck in front of the pumpkin.

An aside about Turkish road safety. If your car stalls at the side of the road, you put a large rock several meters behind your car to warn drivers your car is stalled at the side of the road. But this driver, for whatever reason, had used a pumpkin instead of a rock. It was an unfortunate choice because the pumpkin was so adorable. Also, an adorable pumpkin or watermelon or cabbage at the side of the road behind a truck usually means there's someone selling pumpkins or watermelons or cabbages from the truck.

Naturally, I had to comment on the deeply wonderful humor of the pumpkin. BE laughed. So I made fun of the pumpkin some more. BE laughed some more. I told LE about the pumpkin to wake him up. It didn't work, but BE thought it was funny. It occurred to me I haven't made BE laugh about a non-LE related thing in years. Including the years before we got divorced. Even after we picked up the doll-lady and the nervous husband and LE went back to sleep, I kept bringing up the pumpkin. It was a no-fail gag. It felt good, acting like normal parents even though I was thinking it will probably make BE think everything is okay between us and we can get back together.

That's only because he has no idea of the source of my good mood in the first place. Hah!

I'm waiting for the drunken SMS, be sure. But it was still nice to laugh with him. Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and Murray Head and Dire Straits came on the radio.

Dealing With Shit

So I got the boy home and gave him some food and I had some coffee and collected the things that needed photocopying and we set off, slipping and sliding through piles of snow and avoiding cars with drivers who were clearly too much of bastards to realize how hard it is to quickly move a boy through the ice to a place where we won't get run over.

"'Dickweed' is a bad word," said LE.
"Yup," I agreed. "So is 'dipshit.' So are 'fuckwit' and 'fucktard.'"
"And 'motherfucker.'"
"Super bad."
"How do you say 'fuck' in Turkish?" he asked. I told him I'm sure he's heard his father say it. "Yes, but what is it?" I whispered it in his ear and told him it's way worse to say bad words in Turkish than in English. "Blah blah blah," he said, because that's what he says when he asks for an explanation of something and it take me more than five words to explain it and none of those words are "Captain America."

Photocopying was easy. But there was still the issue of the dilekçi, which needs to be written in a sort of formal language I can't do. Actually, I don't know what happens if you write a dilekçi in everyday language. To me, it's enough to write, "Please don't cut off my phone. My residence permit has been renewed as of blah blah date." But somehow I know enough to know you can't just write that in a dilekçi, and the call center lady in Ankara clearly wasn't into dictating a dilekçi for me, so I needed help.

They also sell glitter and spraypaint and glitter spraypaint.

Thank goodness for Ünaldı Kırtasiye. They're the ones who have pirate copies of our textbooks printed up and ready to go even before word has gotten to all the teachers that the publishers have failed us once again and there won't be enough copies of the books for the students to buy legally. I don't know how many times I've written "Ünaldı" on the board and told my students to have their books the following day, then erased "Ünaldı" with the back of my hand. The owner is a lovely guy with surprisingly great though oddly formal English that he loves to use. So I got the photocopies made and then asked him for help with the dilekçi.

He totally slept with the antlers.
I explained the problem well enough, except we didn't know who to address the dilekçi to because the woman who answered the phone at the call center had said it really fast. We assumed Telekom and he wrote this beautiful dilekçi for me that I understood but never would have come up with on my own. LE wanted some felt reindeer antlers, so I hooked him up with those.

Antlers. Dilekçi. I was sorting the fuck out of shit. There was no need to make Turkcell my bitch. Oh no. I was aiming high and making the government my bitch this time. At least, this one pointless government office whose name I didn't even know was going to be my bitch. I hoped they had their bending over muscles all warmed up.

After that, we went down to Turkcell to find out who actually wanted the dilekçi and photocopies. I had an address, but no addressee. Luck was on our side once again, as all the bitchy women there were busy and there were just the nice guys. Ok, one bitchy guy and one nice guy. So we got the addressee sorted out and I re-copied the dilekçi, including every number from my documents I could ever think of. The only thing left was to pop it all into cargo and be done with it and hope for the best.

The cargo office was open. There were people in there doing stuff. But for the actual sending of cargo, they had closed at 3.

I lost count, actually. I wasn't really keeping score.
Well played, Turkey. Well played.

The tally. To Good Turkey, I award 500 million points for the guy at Ünaldı, and another 2 million points to the guy who fixed my glasses for free. To Bad Turkey, 10 billion points for still asking for dilekçi, and for failing to notify of me about the need for these things sooner. Also for failing to use a computer or get on the fucking telephone. Bad Turkey also gets a bonus 5 million points for closing cargo at a stupid time. I give myself a million points for figuring out a way to do stuff, and for not killing anyone or yelling at them or hitting them.

And yay! It's snowing again!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Motherfucker Fucking Fuck Fuck Fuck

Me, aged 12 or so, shooting skeet.
Someone put this bow in her hair.
Whenever a bunch of people in America get blown away by some over-armed suicidal fucktard, I'm usually pretty jaded about it. Meh, right? It's sad. Lots of people screech lots of things and nothing changes and the next one happens.

It's just something that happens when you live in America. People go postal. Everyone's surprised, or pretends to be. The gun lobby assures us it's people, not guns. The anti-gun people, who I'm pretty sure don't have a lobby anyone gives a shit about, hew uselessly into the air. Even though guns are bad and everything, there are civil rights afoot here and no one really wants to get into the legalities of messing with certain things.
They believed in her.

Goodness knows I don't.

And that makes it all okay.

But what the fuck fucking fuck motherfucker. Seriously?

Someone tied this scarf for her.

Bullied teens and Columbine. I get it. It went quite a lot farther than my personal teen revenge fantasies, but I know how it feels to feel that way and I'm fucking glad there was no Marilyn Manson when I was fourteen because that still makes my suicidal trigger finger deliciously itchy. And actually, I used to envision highly personalized deaths for my tormentors. Broken neck while playing flag football and no one notices till the bell rings. I carry the limp white-faced body back to the classroom. Smashed by an elevator-- worst fucking death ever, looking up and knowing what's going to happen! Run over by the school bus while everyone laughs till they realize it's for real. Falling out of windows. Heads smashed like grapes.
His eyes are the same color as LE's

But fucking hell.

Mental illness. I get it. I was talking to my dad about this yesterday, about how mental illness in the US is different from some other places not only because of the highly politicized "There's no help!" which is true, but also because most Americans, when they see something weird going on next door that doesn't involve a little kid, they butt the fuck out. Maybe it's because that's the polite thing to do. Maybe it's the fear of the inconvenience of a deposition. No one wants to be a busybody. It's not that it's wrong. It's just what we do. I daresay all the other individualism is well worth it.

It's not her fake smile.
But here, you can be sure everyone around you butts the fuck in whether you want it or not. Everyone knows your business. Hardly anyone is alone, ever, no matter how desperately they want to be. When we moved to Sarıyer, I was like, "Ooh, woods! We can go walk in the woods!" and BE was all, "What, you want to get raped?" And he was right. The woods are where guys go for a private, or not-so-private wank. An hour walk through Yıldız Park several year back yielded no fewer than three wankers. The woods along the street to ours are not free of wankers. I've even seen guys there for group wanks. They usually listen to Arabesque while they're doing it. It's one of many reasons I'm not a fan of Arabesque.

Everyone knows who she takes after.
But seriously, what the fuck else are you going to do? At least those guys aren't alone. Not alone alone, I mean. Not usually. When someone here decides to take out more than a spouse, and maybe some kids in the accompanying Hollis Brown-style desperation and despondency, he or she is usually is usually a terrorist (a for-real terrorist, not the made-up kind) and is dealt with in an entirely other way.

My uncle is mentally ill. He was institutionalized for awhile. He doesn't live geographically close to anyone in the family, but the family are seeing more and more of him. He also has a doctor he sees regularly. The doctor communicates with the family as much as is legally allowed.

No one in the world like her.
There used to be a cop who looked after him when the neighbors called in his crazy (he tended to threaten kids for being noisy). My uncle used to be aggressive and mean. He still talks incessantly. He's lonely but isn't exactly socially inviting, though I suppose he tries, in his way.

The cop retired. Between the family and the doctors and the cop, my uncle never hurt himself or anyone else. He never went to prison. It's a mixture of privilege and good luck and good fortune. Most Americans with mental illness aren't so lucky. Most people like my uncle would be in jail by the time they were his age, or they would be dead. Without all that support, however hard it was to give, there's a good chance my uncle would have taken out at least a few others with himself.

BE's uncle is mentally ill. He was institutionalized after he stabbed a guy 20 or so years ago. He lives in Fatih, and I guess a bunch of guys decided to gang up on him for smoking on the street during Ramazan. He got scared.

He would have been handsome.
Public health entitles him to medical care. After he got out of the hospital, he started letting the family look after him. He lives in an apartment, and there are some people in the building who take care of him, making sure he's fed and relatively clean. He looks after their kids sometimes. Unlike my uncle, BE's uncle loves kids. People trust him with their kids even though he's nuts by all other accounts.

All I want for Christmas is... fuck.

Every couple of weeks, BE or his parents go to Fatih to make sure he has everything he needs. Then they go around the neighborhood paying the barber, the bakkal, and whatever other shops the uncle goes to and runs up a tab. They make sure everything is okay. They find the uncle wandering the streets somewhere and give him as much affection as he'll accept. They'll have some tea with him. BE's uncle is painfully shy.

Not that mental health care in Turkey is so super stellar. It's just that I found this parallel in the care of our uncles that took the voluntary involvement of lots of people. If anything went wrong with either of our uncles, several people would be on the case and making phone calls.

But I digress. You know why? Because I can't stop thinking about it.

He's such a little guy.
A guy with a huge gun, and maybe some others strapped to his sides, explodes into a room full of kids LE's age. They're doing some kid classroom thing, maybe having Circle Time on the floor, maybe seated at little tables doing something. A teacher is in one of those tiny kid-classroom chairs making it seem okay to sit in one of those. Maybe they're all lined up taking altogether too long to wash the paint off their hands.

Because that's what kids do.

There's that smell of kid classrooms. They all turn and look. Is it something fun? A police officer maybe? A superhero? Because that's the kind of shit kids think. Maybe they had a chance to notice there was something not right about the man and some of them turned to look at their teacher.

Because that's another thing kids do. They look.

Everyone mentioned her eyes.
And then one kid's head exploded. Maybe another kid's tummy. A little shoulder. A chubby little leg. It's not all right. Some of them cry and get exploded. At this point, either the teacher is exploded, too, or she's doing something that tells the kids it's definitely not all right.

When kids cry for real, for hurt or terrified real, it's silent at first. Their lips tremble, and they go red, but no sound comes out till they take a breath. When a kid cries loudly and immediately, you know there's no need to rush. I keep wondering how many of them had a chance to do a cry that makes a sound.

He wanted to make people happy.
For sure there are Christmas decorations around the room. Some store-bought ones that appeared by magic after Thanksgiving break, and the Picasso-esque glue-glitter-handprint ones the kids made. Also star charts and some other educational stuff.

Kids have little hands and little arms and little chests you can feel the bones through. They have flattish noses and lips that stick out on top and these funny little voices that never shut up.

Some guy walked into a room of that, the smell, the motion, the voices, and started shooting. I'm sure there was all kinds of cinema-ish gore he wasn't quite expecting. The best thing I can hope for him is that he wasn't thinking anything.

He's putting on a brave face.

I called LE at his grandmother's the morning after I heard, just to hear his little voice on the phone. He was pissed off at me for interrupting whatever he was doing, but also he told me how he'd made a cake and Babaanne had made aşure. Then he told me some stuff about superheroes that was in no way related to the questions I'd asked him.

Me, aged 25 or so. That's a double-barreled shotgun with a pistol grip.
And when he came home, I couldn't leave him alone. I even still pat his perky little butt because I know nothing is sexualized for him yet. I recently kicked him out of the so called co-sleeping bed into the guest bed, but he still buries his face into my boob to sleep after his story. He still kind of thinks the boobs are his. One day, he'll realize it's an off-limits part of me but I bet he'll still miss it.

I sometimes think how lucky and blessed he is, how lucky and blessed we are.

A harrowing thing I once heard is that wounded soldiers on the battlefield call for their mothers, more than water or help or ouch.

Their faces are so soft.
LE even was annoying me yesterday, between getting grabbed for cuddles and neck sniffings. And then I felt guilty for being annoyed, because he was alive.

And then I felt guilty for being sad about the dead American kids when... well, you know. The shit happening to kids all over the world, even just over the border from here is too much to be borne. The other day someone posted a video on Facebook of Syrian rebels forcing an 8 year-old to execute someone. I didn't watch the video. The still was enough. Aren't the rebels supposed to be the "good guys?"

Maybe it was real and maybe it wasn't. It doesn't matter. Even if it wasn't a real video, we all know shit like that still happens to kids.

Her smile reminded them of someone else's.
Kids are people who wonder incessantly if street cats are boys or girls. They dance when you're not looking.

Last night I was talking to my dad, who isn't dealing with this any better than I am. He says he been obsessed with the details of it all on the news. I said I'm blissfully unaware of the details because I don't watch the news.

He said, "One little girl was shot six times."

I said, "Fuck."

He said, "All of the kids were shot at least twice."

I said, "That's another detail I didn't want to know."

She was going to be someone.
But I get why he had to say it. Same reason I had to say it just now. Because how the fuck else do you get that out of your head otherwise?

Insert comma here. Format photo there. The mechanics of this thing are shameful.

I've never been one of these people to bang on about about gun control and peace. You know why? Because why bother? Fucking duh, yeah? Don't give guns to psychopaths. Don't make stupid ass fucking wars where you send other people's kids to get killed. It's just so obvious to me, I never saw a reason to bother bitching about it after I was 16 or so.

Didn't have a chance to be the someone she was gonna be.
Some things will never change, no matter how hard we believe.

Here's one thing I always tell my kid: Mamas love their babies no matter what. Even when they're naughty. Even when they're stinky. Even when they're all grown up and hairy and don't care about their mamas so much anymore.

It's easy to blame the mama.

I know I've added "Even when they're psychopaths" in there once or twice. "Even if they do the baddest thing you could ever think of."

It's a good lesson. I have to remember it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

'Twas A Few Weeks Before Christmas...

... and alone in the house, I was playing with my kid's toys and my nativity figures and taking pictures of it all because that's how I roll.

Where's Joseph? In the doghouse again?
The nativity figures are from Mexico. My parents bought them on a getaway, presumably a getaway from me because I was a baby. On this trip, they went off and made my brother. That would have made me about 9 months old at the time. It's my earliest memory, looking up from my bassinet at an unfamiliar ceiling. Someone was there who I knew and liked, probably my Aunt Sis, or someone in her house because that's where I was left, I'm told.

Swaddling clothes leave you with no options.
She was leaning over me and talking to me and I was just lying there, not at all cool with the situation but there was fuck-all I could do about it because I was a baby and there's not much babies can do when they're lying there and their parents are gone and there's a perfectly nice person cooing over you but it's not the person you want. Nothing personal to Aunt Sis. I was a baby and not capable of especially complex reasoning. I had things in my head but couldn't say them. Probably I cried because that's how babies roll.

Most of my 20s and a good deal of my 30s are completely gone, but I remember that.

"Don't bother, Joseph. They're still not talking to you."
I'm not sure if the nativity set was bought for me, or I just appropriated it and at some point it was understood to be mine. I loved setting it out. I was very reverent about the whole thing at first, filled with the sense children have that being religious is somehow Good. I didn't attempt to be religious much throughout the rest of the year, but when Santa is especially watching you, it can't hurt to be extra careful.

"Hey guys, check it out! It's Captain America!"
My mom, though encouraging of creativity in the general sense, also likes things to be done right.

"Hey, everyone! Great to be back!"
So at some point I started moving the nativity figures into more irreverent poses.

"So, catch me up. What have I missed?"
The cow is licking baby Jesus. That wise man got mad at the others so he's going home. Joseph and the angel are telling secrets. Jesus was naughty so he had to go over there. It drove my mom crazy at first, when I messed up the nativity scene.

Baby Jesus wouldn't sop crying, so Captain America let him play with his shield. Turned out he'd just done a poo, and no one could decide whose turn it was to clean him up.
But after enough years of it, well into my teens, she started liking it.

Everyone was surprised how far a baby could throw a shield.
She always put them back right, though.

They all had a good laugh.
My brothers and I can be complete dicks, as far as my mom's attention to detail. Sometimes we turn a picture slightly crooked and snicker into our breakfasts while we watch how long it takes her notice. If we can find some dust, we write swear words in it and wait for the sun to hit it just right.

"Hey look, everyone! It's Loki!"
I had this boyfriend in college who, unbeknownst to all of us, started turning the head of the rabbit cookie jar backwards every time he came over. It drove my poor mom batshit and took us all a couple of years to figure out who was doing it.

"Ho ho ho!"
Whatever ways LE comes up with to fuck with me when he's older are well-deserved. He's not very subtle now. Lately, his thing is hiding when it's time to leave or when it's time to go to sleep, saying, "Mama, where am I?" He's not that hard to find. He's still young enough that the point of hiding is to be found.

"And what do you want for Christmas, little boy?"
Captain America has a very tiny gun. We bought him last week with the money LE has saved up from a couple of Bayrams and lost teeth. I warned LE the tiny gun was likely to be lost within a few hours and he might as well get used to the idea.

"Mary, shall we get our picture taken with Santa?"
He's fanatic about keeping track of the tiny gun, to the point where he won't sleep with Captain America even though he wants to, or let Captain America become separated from his gun, even for a short time. He won't play with Captain America's other accessories because that would mean Captain America couldn't have the gun.

"I'm still not talking to you."
I hope it's inadvertent I've passed this insane obsessiveness about tiny things onto my kid.

Or maybe deep down I'm just fucking with him to make him smarter.

"I'll take a picture with you, Joseph."
Captain America still has the tiny gun. In his effort to keep an eye on the gun, LE hardly plays with Loki at all.

"I've been very naughty."
But that's always the way when you have two similar toys, isn't it? You always love one more than the other, but secretly, because you don't want the less loved one to find out.

Everyone wanted a go on Santa's lap.

When I was a kid, for awhile I slept with like ten stuffed animals. It was because I didn't want the other nine of them to find out I secretly loved this mousy pink one the best.

It all got a bit silly.
My brother had a stuffed dog and a stuffed baby seal. In our teens, he confessed he'd always loved the dog the best, even though the baby seal was way cuter and the dog's tongue had fallen out.

"Moo? Baa? I honestly don't know if I'm a cow or a sheep."
Sometimes I think this is why I never had a second kid. I'm afraid I could never love it as much as I love LE.

Mike Bebek is here!
I'd manage to hide it, of course, but I'd always know I loved LE more and feel guilty about it.

Abi, yaa. My clothes are lost. Keep an eye on that tiny gun of yours.
I wouldn't want another layer of guilt clouding my loving LE.

Telling stories into the dark night. The angel might have a thing for Loki. Loki let Baby Jesus play with his staff, and it ended up being a good night, all in all.
Mother guilt easily extends into the imaginary.