Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hugely Pointless

This building is not for sale.
Quite why someone felt compelled to hang this sign I would really like to know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Week Of Teeth

When LE was the appropriate age for growing teeth, he grew some. I don't remember the exact age because I'm such a bad mom.

He used to make this face on command.
The first few came without much fanfare. Another bullet dodged, I thought, couched as the new teeth were with so many other milestones it was nigh on impossible to tell which milestones were making him cry and not sleep. I think of the early teeth as one of many dodged bullets because LE never had colic or gas, he weaned without hardly a peep at 2 years and 3 months, and potty training him was way easier than it is for us now to get up at 6am for work and school.

The top front teeth were kind of a bitch, I admit. One of them kept coming out and going back in and bleeding and it made us both insane. But those teeth also coincided with a lot of other bad marriage crap and a trip to the US, so it's hard to say which thing, exactly, was making us insane. I gave him some homeopathic teeth medicine because what the fuck else are you gonna do? Nothing works, believe me. It's just that you have to do something to make up for all the other crap, and loading the kid up on Nyquil is frowned upon these days.

Anyway, he grew a bunch of other teeth until he had a mouthful of them.

And then the cavities started. The first one I let go for a long time, because he had reached the age of Bitching About Stuff Overly Much. Also he'd started bitching about it when we were in the States and I figured it would be better if he could hold out till we got back to Turkey where dental care is relatively way cheaper. But it was not to be. My dad took him to the dentist and the dentist was all, "You mean all this kid did was bitch a little?" because apparently he needed like a baby root canal. After a huge scream about the needle, he fell asleep for the rest of the ordeal.

Oh shit. I'm having and old fart moment where I'm telling a story I've already told. At least I used different words this time. Humor me and pretend I told it way better this time. Apologies to Lori for bringing up the tumble again, via linking. I really had totally forgotten about it.

Only little baby bitches cry, bitch!
Subsequent cavities went by unblogged because I was all busy getting divorced and shit. One cavity involved this sadist at the dentist office down the street, where she drilled the fuck out of my kid's head without anesthetic and he screamed and squirmed and I had to hold him down on the chair by lying under him and pinning his arms and feel the drill through his skull in my shoulder. Also that cow talked too much and didn't listen to me at all and thank goodness she went on holiday for the follow-ups, so we were able to visit a nicer dentist upstairs who was less interested in testing a 4-year old's fortitude.

Two cavities later, the boy seemed fine. I'm a demon about morning and bedtime teeth brushing and he brushes his teeth at school, too, after lunch.

I call him Clarence and he likes meat.
But here's the rub. There's fuck-all I can do about the poor kid's teeth. When I was a kid, I had this Christian Scientist dentist who I guess believed the Grace of God doesn't apply to teeth. In one of my earliest dental records, he wrote, "This child has the Devil in her mouth." BE's teeth are worse than mine. For all the gorgeousness our kid somehow got from the two of us, the boy was cursed with our teeth.

I noticed another cavity on the plane to the States this last time, because there's not much else to do on the plane than find things to freak out about. I once again hoped this one would hold out till we got back to Turkey because I've been nothing but broke since I kicked BE's sorry ass out.

So I took him to the dentist, another one this time that came with good recommendations from some friends. Turns out the cavity was preparing to be an abscess and the tooth needed to come out, from a filling that wasn't so good the first time around. Plus there were four other cavities that needed seeing to.

That's right, four. I started bargaining with LE right away-- did he want a small, crappy toy for every cavity, or one big super great toy when all the cavities were filled? That's the deal, where he gets a toy for every visit the dentist. I'd learned from the last round of cavities that the trips to the toy store are nearly as bankrupting as the trips to the dentist. He opted for the first choice. I was kind of bummed he hasn't yet learned to delay immediate small pleasures for big ones later.

Your advice is worth jack-shit, Mr. Tooth!
To add to the major teeth-related fun that's been going on around here, the other night LE accidentally bit an olive pit and started whimpering. One of his front lower teeth looked a bit bloody and I touched it and of all the goddamned things, it wiggled.

Fucking milestone alert! Kid has his first loose tooth!

He was extremely upset. Between all the dentist visits and the upcoming tooth-pulling, he got all mixed up and I'm pretty sure he thinks all his teeth are gonna come out of his head. Which they are, but not in the way he thinks.

It's fair to say the kid and I will share the same recurrent nightmare, the one where your teeth keep breaking and falling out. It's a common nightmare, I hear. But closer to home for some than others.

I tried to offset all this with a tremendous and non-feigned display of amazement and pride and cuddles LE didn't understand. We Skyped with my mom and she confirmed that this whole loose-tooth thing is tremendous and great. LE is suspicious, but a little bit into the whole losing his teeth and getting Big Boy teeth now.

I remember, Little Man. It's the one on the left.
And I'm a little bit sad because the tooth that's loose is also the first tooth he ever grew.

Still, the tooth pulling went way more smoothly than I imagined because the tooth didn't have any roots. LE didn't care for the Novocaine needle and screeched a lot about that, but the dentist was great and had him giggling in no time. He snuck in the fourth filling and whipped out the tooth lickety-split. LE mostly only bitched about the wodge of cotton in his mouth on the way home.

Super cool! And gross!
And when we got home, he was ready to play with the kids in the street. He settled for a picture of his tooth hole, rather than a good look in the mirror. "It's cool," he said, when I showed him the picture.


Apparently, they don't have the Tooth Fairy in Turkey so that's something we're spreading the word about. Apparently, it's hilarious. But we packaged up the tooth in a paper towel and plastic bag and some stickers. Then we un-packaged it so LE could look at it again. Then we re-packaged it and put it under the pillow and LE kind of froze up, looking around in terror in case the Tooth Fairy was going to suddenly appear and start flying around the room.

The Tooth Fairy gave him 5 lira. Also she took the tooth and packed it away in a box. She plans to take each and every tooth from his head and stash it somewhere, like serial killer trophies piling up, because she is a bit creepy and trolls her kid every freaking moment of his sweet skinny arm squeaky voice smelly little boy life.

Mama loves Precious.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Cengiz Amca

Yesterday on my way to work, BE phoned me to tell me Cengiz Amca was gone.

He uses that euphemism in English, "gone." I'm not sure if they have the same one in Turkish. But I knew from his voice he meant "dead."

Cengiz Amca is BE's best friend's dad. BE grew up across the street from them. We call him Amca because that's what BE called him when they were kids. BE and this friend went to school together, played in the street together, skipped school together, and even caught the clap from the same Bakırköy whore when they lost their virginity together.

BE hasn't really spoken to me properly in a couple of months. I'm not sure why. He just got mad again, for some reason. But he called me up for this because he was sad.

He needs to get over me already, I know. And he makes it too easy to be good to him even when he doesn't deserve it. When I told him my cousin died back in November, he just grunted. The high road is always wide open for me. I've won the divorce over and over again, without hardly trying.

I'm glad I'm not BE. It must suck being pissed off and hung up on me all the time.

Cengiz Amca was cool. So is his wife, Sema Teyze. They both had thrilling adventures as subversive students and you could talk about anything with them. They smoke like it's going out of style and make it look cool. Sema Teyze was the first Turkish mother I'd ever heard say, to one of her children who was complaining about being hungry, "You have feet and you know where the fridge is." Granted, the child was like 20, but still. If you live here, you know what I mean.

Cengiz Amca was an engineer. BE and his friend jokingly called him a çopçu (garbage collector), which I guess is technically correct, but what Cengiz Amca did was run one of the yards where the gypsy trash collectors bring all the stuff, to separate it and clean it for recycling. It was his own business, something where he could make a living but still have a social consciousness.

I asked BE what happened, assuming some horrible health crisis involving smoking and working too hard. But it was a car accident. And that was that. It just makes me think that at any moment you can get one of those phone calls that changes fucking everything for-fucking-ever.

"We're wasted," BE said. "We've been up all night and now we're at the morgue filling out papers. Then we're going to wash the body."


It's hard not to get stuck on that. But then I thought of when my grandfather died and they turned him into Wax Grandpa for an open-casket funeral. Or how when my other grandfather, and my grandmothers, and a few other people died and they were just gone and I never saw them again.

And then I thought of that extraordinary kindness allowed to people, to wash their dead themselves before sending them off. Some last act of tenderness and affection. I don't know if I could deal with it, but I hope I could. Could I wash my mom or my dad or my brothers or LE if they were dead in front of me? I hope BE and his friend dealt with it okay, because it seems like some kind of privilege when I really think about it. Maybe totally horrible but also a privilege.

Cengiz Amca and Sema Teyze have long been some of my favorite people in Turkey. I used to secretly wish I'd landed them as in-laws instead.

And now one of the world's good people is gone, in some stupid and senseless way, but then again, when does it make any sense at all when someone dies?

That's all there is to say.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Week Back: A Bureacratic Success Story, The Cats Are Off The Island, and the Retard Report

This makes it all inspirational and shit.
This post is unnecessarily long because I really wanted to fit "The Cats Are Off The Island" and "The Retard Report" into a single title. It was purely out of vanity, I assure you.

Still, you might as well settle in because it'll be awhile. I'll try to put lots of pictures.

Chapter 1: A Bureaucratic Success Story

Oh, baby.
It's been a busy week full of busy things that never seem to end. For one, I went to the tax place to pay the money to get my new phone activated. If you buy a phone in a foreign country, you still have to pay the duties on it to get it turned on. So I did, because even with the extra 100tl, it was still cheaper to buy it over there.

Who thinks of these colors?
With the help of a minibus driver I located the tax office. It was one of those dismaying institutional places with bland, graying paint that's always kind of dirty. There are always multi-colored yet somehow colorless speckled floors, and windows and desks where a lot of people appear to be doing nothing very slowly. I asked a guy where I could pay the money to get the phone turned on, and he asked if I'd ever done any work there before. I happily misinterpreted the question and said "no," so he gave me directions for somewhere upstairs to go to get a tax number.

But I already have a tax number. It's just that I got it in Bakırköy a long time ago, not in the particular tax office where I was. He sent me off the Vezne. Having the tax number was just the first in a series of tax office successes.

Ready for anything.
I gave the Vezne guy my tax card and he eyed it suspiciously, turning it over and back a few times. I would have been suspicious too, since the tax number is simply handwritten onto a laminated card. But he accepted it. After that, it was like a challenge to see if he could want something I didn't have.

Passport? Had it. Residence permit? Had it. The phone? Had it. I offered the receipt for my phone, but he didn't want that. I also could have offered 4 passport sized photos, LE's and the cats' vaccination records, a box of crayons, four different shades of lip gloss, a marble, and a small bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer, had he asked for any of those things. I carry a lot of shit on me at all times.

He seemed faintly disappointed everything had gone so well, and with a grunt, waved me off to the fellow in the next window, who took my money. Which I also had, cash or credit, nasıl isterseniz.

As I walked out, I looked around and realized I probably should have been a lot more scared of this place. The new normal freaks me out sometimes, even if it's just because it's not freaking me out.

Chapter 2: The Cats Are Off The Island

Not missed. At all.
So for the last week, I've been deciding I can't live with the cats anymore. It's not just their wanton, needless destruction or their constant need to be into whatever I'm doing or their endless desire to sit in my lap and knead my tits with their claws. It's also their insane, ongoing quest for food, even if it's just to scatter it across the floor if I turn my back for a second, and the fact that I discovered I own cornmeal because they clawed the cornmeal and made it fall all over, along with some rice. Also there's the thing where I never want to do anything that involves entering a bedroom because it entails extracting a cat from the closet before anything else gets chewed to pieces and then tossing them both out the door and closing it before they run back in. I bar my bedroom door night while they keep me awake, flinging themselves at the door so they can come in and kill the laundry and my sweaters and attack my feet and knead my hair and tits with their claws. Plus their box is gross and they throw their litter and sometimes poo all over the place.

Good riddance, fucker.
And then they developed this maniacal obsession with tampons (unused ones), which they started stealing and running away with in triumph so that I had to corner the cat to take the tampon back. As soon as the bedroom door opened, a cat appeared to stick its head in the drawer and dig out a tampon. It was a trend I didn't care to continue with.

Enough, I thought. So I made arrangements with the neighbors to take Havuç and Spider to the cat farm where their mothers and siblings and half-siblings now live.

My neighbors like cats, so I'm inclined to believe them that the cat farm is a fine place for them. Maybe it isn't, but in any case it's better than the street and it's better than my house and it's better than me murdering them.
I'm sure it's like this.
The night before the cats were scheduled to go to the farm, they knocked their kitty carrier off a top shelf onto the floor and broke it a little. That morning, after a thrilling bout of tampon theft, they knocked over the garbage in the kitchen and scattered it all over the floor, then they walked in the wet bathtub and then walked all over the house with wet dirty feet. Havuç refused to leave the sink so I could brush my teeth, and Spider almost killed me by being underfoot between my legs. So they made getting rid of them really easy.

Murdered sweater: a special gift from the cats.
I took a tampon and tossed it into the cat carrier and they both ran in to get it. Then I snaked the tampon back out, locked the door, and taped the whole thing closed where they broke it so they wouldn't escape in the car. I dropped them off at the neighbor's, and that was the end of the cats. The neighbors returned the carrier to me when I came home that afternoon, with a big hole ripped in the tape and some of Spider's fur stuck to it. Apparently the cats were very eager to go to the farm and destroy whatever there is there.

When I got back to the house, I opened the front door wide because there weren't any cats there to stop from running downstairs. I opened all the windows because there weren't any cats to fall off the windowsills, and I opened all the bedroom doors because the contents of those rooms are now safe from cats. For good measure, I threw some clothes on the floor because there were no cats to chew and claw holes in them.

I told LE the cats were gone and his face crumpled like he was going to cry. So I reminded him about how they chew up his toys and knock over his castles. He thought about it for a moment and said, "Goodbye, cats."

And that was the end of that. LE mentioned this morning how nice it is being able to leave his crap lying around on the floor.

I must say, I completely agree.

Chapter 3: The Retard Report

So a big huge thing I've been long-term trying to deal with is the problem of LE and school. Back in March, the government announced that the school system should henceforth be the now-notorious 4+4+4 system. The short version is that it's been decided that schooling shall be broken into three phases-- 4 years of elementary, 4 years of middle, and 4 years of high school.

No one is ready.
On the face of it, the new system doesn't seem so bad. More school! What could be wrong with that? Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll find that it's profoundly flawed both practically and politically, like so many other apparently straightforward issues in Turkey. But I'll spare you all of that because I've ranted endlessly about it for months virtually and in real life.

Instead, I'll go straight to the part of the new law that bothered me most in the concrete sense, which was that our good leaders declared children shall start first grade at 5 1/2, or 66 months. LE turned 66 months at the end of August.

So since March, I, like many parents of children my age, have been trying to work out a solution to this. Most people I know had been planning to send their kids to kindergarten. LE's preschool had even put together a really nice kindergarten curriculum.

At first, the media were saying you could write a dilekçi (like a petition or formal request) to keep your small kid out of school. Then they said they weren't taking dilekçi anymore. Then they decided Eğitim ve Beslenme shools (public schools that go all day and give your kids food) should be open to everyone in the district, not just the working families they'd been designed for, because it was unfair for working families to have some kind of advantage, like quality care for their kids.

At that point, I gave up and resigned myself to the winds of fate. There's fuck-all you can do about some things, except trying to force yourself into being accepting of the idea that LE will be in first grade this year. I was theoretically successful, but not really.

It was around this time that LE started saying, "Fucking government. Mama, what's the government?" Things have been really heavy around here.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago while I was in the States, I read on Facebook that schools or the government or whatever were accepting health reports saying it would be harmful for your child to enter first grade because he/she was mentally underdeveloped or whatever. I was all, "I need me one of those." And I became optimistic that LE might not have to go to school. This required a lot of sorting out because, having resigned myself to first grade, I hadn't worked out a plan for daycare for LE, other than planning to hire my cleaner to look after him in the mornings until noon, when it was time to start school. It wasn't ideal, but it was the best I can afford and I figured at least she'd clean every day and cook a little, so it would be like having a servant, which is kind of cool.

A useless website that doesn't work with Firefox.

Then the on-campus school he's been going to closed down and moved because they couldn't agree about their rent with the university. The new school had just opened, and I had no idea if there was a place for LE, or even if they were taking kids his age. Since I was in the States, there was nothing I could do but ask around a bit.

BE heard about the Retard Report, too. It was the only nice thing, the only full sentences really, that he spoke to me at the airport when we arrived home. It was agreed that I should sort out a preschool for LE, and then BE would get the health report.

My part of the agreement is still somewhat of an ongoing thing, but BE did a big scramble to get the Retard Report. He went to the place he'd heard about, only to be told that Ankara had issued an order that any doctor who wrote a health report to keep a younger child out of first grade would be fired.

I got this news while meeting in my office with a student. And I was all, "WTF, did we miss it by one day?" A friend of mine had, that morning, sent me a photo of the report they'd gotten the day before. The student got to learn some first-class swearing, as well as a lot more about my personal life than he was probably counting on.

So I told BE to call my friend's husband, the one who'd gotten the report the day before, and find out what he did. BE tends to give up awfully easily. He's also a bit of a fuckup, even though he does have it in him sometimes to get things right.

The Retard Report.
The next part, the part where BE gets the Retard Report, was relayed to me secondhand by his parents, because BE isn't talking to me now. Apparently, there was one good and upright Cumhuriyetçi psychologist somewhere deep in the interminable bowels of Bakırköy Hospital. Finding this doctor took some doing. I imagined a small group of frustrated parents running hither and yon together, clamoring for Retard Reports for their kids. The doctor didn't even need a bribe, apparently.

So it's official. My kid is a retard. This is not by my accounting. It's according our good Tayyip. According to the various statements he's released in the past few weeks, not only are kids who get reports to stay out of school for a year retards, they are also traitors and they support the PKK.

I couldn't find the one with Erdoğan dancing, singing "You're a retard!" to a little kid.
It's an awfully heavy load for a small kid. As soon as mine knows what "traitor" and "PKK" and "retard" mean, I'll be sure and let him know the government says he's all of those things. For now, he's just happy he can play with his gun with the sponge bullets the cats were insane about chewing up before they discovered tampons.

Bonus Chapter 4: The Retard Report Wrap-Up

At the end of the week, I took the Retard Report to the elementary school LE had been automatically registered at. The security guard sent me to whatever office, but he had given me the wrong name and I couldn't find the office. I went up and down four floors, wandering the halls looking.

They all kind of look the same.
The school was being painted with a fresh coat of institutional blah. The new paint was hard to distinguish from the graying paint underneath. The floors were from the same Institutional Standard Issue Speckle as the ones in the tax office. Tiny orange and green footprints had been painted on the stairs to show the kids which side to walk on for going up or down. I saw something that looked like animal poo on the floor. The rooms had beaten-up desks and cupboards carelessly stacked in the center, and they had interesting names like "Science Lab" and "Art," but the insides were the same as the other classrooms.

Everything's gonna be fine.
I wanted to cry, seeing that place. The only positive thing is that I have a year to get used to the idea of sending my kid to that unbearable place.

With the help of a cleaner, I finally found the right office. The assistant principal (a different guy from the one I'd talked to before) had also come from the same Standard Issue as the guys in the tax office, with a big thick mustache and dyed black hair and graying skin. I told him what I was there for and he took my stuff and gave me someone else's dilekçi to copy because I have no idea what you're supposed to write in those things, but they have to be either typed or written in your own hand. While I was copying it, he talked to a few other visitors, doing everything very slowly, endlessly shuffling papers and opening and closing the same drawer. His answers to them were short and vague and final-sounding. Then he asked me if, in America, they make kids start first grade at 5 and a half. I said they don't, usually. He muttered something bitter about our good leaders and the state of things in Turkey.

Then he asked me about my husband and I told him I was divorced, which probably wasn't such a good idea because then, get this, he started flirting with me. "Bekarlık çok zor, değil mi?" (It's hard being single, isn't it?) I began getting concerned it might take a blowjob to bring the school matter to rest, because, I don't know. It's just the sort of thing one worries about in the back of one's mind. So I asked him if he had kids, and he said they're all grown and have no use for him anymore. He's been apart from his wife for 20 years.

So I wrote the dilekçi as fast as I could, made a mistake, scribbled it out and fixed it. The assistant principal shuffled papers and talked about how glad he was I'd come to his office. When I finished writing, I gave him the papers. He looked them over several times, then shuffled them around a bit. Then he put them in the drawer and closed it. Then he took them back out again and shuffled them some more. I pressed my knees together and subtly tried to pull my skirt even farther down over them. His phone kept ringing and he kept hitting the button to shut it off. Then he complained about how busy he was.

Um, no thanks.
I seriously felt like saying, "May I go now, sir?" Instead, I tried to be like a fellow educator and said how difficult things are in September. He said that he was feeling tired and bored, but since I had come to his office, he was feeling much better. So I asked him if everything was in order. He offered me tea. I declined and said I had a lot of work to do. He wondered what sort of work that might be. So I stood up and said something vague and thanked him and bid him good day, offering a handshake because that seemed to be about the least feminine thing I could do in the situation. Then I got the fuck out of there as quick as I could without looking like I was scurrying.

So it seems to be done, this school thing. I'm going to go again tomorrow and check with the woman in the other building, the one he was talking on the phone with, just to make sure everything has been properly data-entered and accepted and accounted for.

And with a week's worth of taking care of shit officially out of the way, I went home, showered, changed into a far more interesting skirt than the one I'd been wearing, and headed off into my next big misadventure.

It's the new new-normal. And it mostly doesn't suck except sometimes it sucks.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

If Only.

There were a series of signs along the road to campus this morning.

Would that it were true.
But they were lying.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Keeping Score: Good Things, Bad Things

So the other day, we came back to Istanbul. Here is my preliminary report:

It's a little better than this, I think.

1) The first good thing that happened was that my ex had arranged for his friend who works in customs to come meet us at the airport. This guy has been meeting us the airport for years. It's the nicest thing ever, being met just outside passport control by a familiar face. Usually at Atatürk Airport, you have to deal with a whole bunch of crap before meeting anyone you know, like passports and visas and the heat and possibly an interminable wait for baggage that may or may not show up, depending on the airline.

Delta is the worst for taking forever and losing your stuff.

I never see BE's airport friend other than at the airport. They're army buddies. We went to his wedding, and once we visited his house after their daughter was born. But he's a nice fellow who can wave off the customs guys if any of them suddenly develop an interest in your stuff.

Wants to smoke.
They're slightly more interested in people's stuff since smoking was banned at the airport.

2) Our bags came fast. That was a good thing too. LE was so happy to see his dad that he more or less forgot I exist. It's okay. After that plane trip, I think we were both glad to be rid of each other for awhile.

It burns.
Which isn't to say I didn't start missing him before I even hit the E5. So I called him up to thank him for being such a great kid on the airplane because I'd forgotten to tell him before I left. I also apologized for getting a bit bitchy toward the end there, even though he really wasn't supposed to bang the sun-filled window shades up and down while everyone is sleeping.

Perhaps I expect an awful lot from such a small fellow. He told me something about a superhero. I don't remember what, because that's mostly all he wants to tell me, is stuff about superheroes.

3) A Bad Thing That Turned Into A Good Thing: So remember in one of my pissy posts from awhile back when I mentioned BE had appropriated part of my child support for a doctor trip?

Check me out, I'm not even gonna link to that post because I'm just feeling so darned comfortable that you read it already.

Well, I went ahead and checked with my lawyer about the money thing and she said BE can't do that. So I let him know he owes me money and he was pissed off so I had to arrange my own ride home from the airport. Which isn't such a problem, really. I got that sorted out even though, according to BE, there aren't korsan taxis anymore so he can't call his regular guy.

Which is why I hooked up a cheap ride home with a car service. They're great. But the limit of the area they go to is the bank which isn't far from my house but it's too far to walk with a bunch of giant, heavy suitcases. So I figured it was cheaper to get a taxi from the bank to my house than pay the extra 20 lira for their going out of area. When we got there, I found a taxi and I guess I convinced him to turn his car around and fetch me and my stuff, though he seemed reluctant. When I went back to the driver he was like, "Oh you just live a few blocks away? Well, I'll take you. No big deal." I looked for the taxi to tell hm not to bother and couldn't find him and I felt really bad because it seemed like he actually was turning around somewhere. At the same time, I was more than happy for the ride to my house.

And then you know what I did? I got us kind of lost. It wasn't my fault. They built a tunnel near my road not long ago, but the roads around the tunnel keep changing and I guess they changed again while I was gone. It took a few tries to hit the turn to my road.

When we finally found my house, the driver still wasn't grouchy so I gave him as big of a tip as I could manage with the remaining lira I had on me.

4) Then I looked at the bags in dismay. Four 50 pound suitcases that needed to go up three flights of stairs.

It's because of guys like this I don't answer where I'm from.
No worries though. Another good thing is coming! No sooner had I taken a breath deep breath in preparation for powering through the pain than a bunch of neighborhood kids ran up offering to help with the bags. The first few kids were too small and I politely declined. But then some more adolescent ones turned up, the ones I had been ignoring a few minutes earlier because they were doing that "Where are you from?" thing. In a giggling, tumbling mass the six boys had hold of my bags. The ones who'd gotten the duty-free booze bag seemed particularly amazed and showed off to the others. They trundled everything up the stairs and fell down a few times but were probably still gentler than the baggage handlers. I rescued the booze halfway up. Then they disappeared as quickly as they'd come.

They called me "teyze." Teyze is what you're supposed to call a woman significantly older than yourself. It's respectful. At first I was all, "WTF?" Then I decided they could call me whatever the hell they want because they'd just hauled my bags up the stairs. Being called teyze was kind of a bad thing, but not so bad.

No picture. I don't want my friends to see what the cats did.
5) When I got in the door, I discovered the cats had knocked a plant from a top shelf all over the desk and floor, and then they'd played with the dirt all over the house. This must have happened fairly close to my arrival home, since my friend who was looking after them had brought a cleaner over the day before. It took me like an hour to clean up and dirt still keeps appearing from nowhere.

Fucking cats. They're so going to the cat farm.

That was a bad thing.

Kind of overrated, but okay.
6) The next day after waking up at 5am and running around doing a bunch of errands or whatever, I was heading across town because that's how I roll. About 40 minutes into the trip I realized I was starving. I was jetlagged and sleepy and my eating is all off and I didn't plan well. So I got off the minibus at the metrobus station and bought a simit from the guy there and then got on the metrobus even though it was crowded and I had to stand and I ate the simit. When it was done, I got my earphones out of my bag. I managed the unzipping and untangling and sticking the thingies into my ears and plugging it all into the phone with one hand because my other hand was holding the bar. I realized I've gotten pretty good at that.

It all felt good. But maybe I was just in a good mood. Hard to say. The point goes to "good thing" in any case.

7) I was heading across town to hang out with a friend. Turns out the Büyükçekmece metrobüs has opened, which made the trip a lot easier. I had to take another minibüs for the last leg, and was naturally worried about getting lost. But I told the driver where I wanted and he said it was the last stop, which was good because "siteler" sounded quite vague to me. It could be any place within a number of apartment complexes.

As we neared the last stop, driver started getting nervous and asking me questions about where I wanted to go. "Isn't it the last stop?" I asked. I showed him the message in my phone from my friend explaining where to go. He wanted to call my friend and check. That's a funny thing that happens in some places, drivers and other people that get nervous about maybe having to be responsible for a lost yabancı woman. It can get awkward.

Turns out the reason he was nervous is because there are two last stops. Of course.

When my friend was giving me directions the day before, I mentioned I would probably get lost. "I'm not an Istanbul kid like you," I said.

And you know what? I didn't get lost and it was cool and everyone was happy.

It was a very good thing.

Good things won.

The End.