Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrong! Bad!

Over Bayram, the in-laws and I took the kid to the playing place at some mall. The experience was endured by all except the kid, who clearly had no idea the play place at the mall is one of the suckiest places on Earth.

This was my take-away. And also a headache.

Look, I get why #1 and #3 are inadvisable things to do with a mallet, but saying #2 can cause injuries is a bit extreme. Does it also cause hairy palms and blindness?

Oh, wait. On closer inspection, I see it's just telling you not to hit your foot with the mallet. You know why? Because that would be fucking stupid. Come to think of it, if you did the 3rd one, you would pretty much deserve to have that happen to you.

Please, my friends. Treat your mallets with care and wisdom. For goodness sakes, don't do it wrong.

You can be sure there was a passel of young males of all ages who found a whole host of other ways to use the mallet wrong in about 5 seconds. It was like the mallet was asking for it, just for being a mallet in the play place at some mall over Bayram.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fucking Famous As Shit!

First, check out the new badge from Expats Blog!

Then forgive me for what's to follow!

I'll never be rich beyond my wildest dreams, but at least I'm not these folks.
So from time to time, I get an email about how my blog is so great and could I just add this widget or banner or thingie or whatever to my site and then through some unlikely convoluted Internet mechanism, someone might heft a few cents or pence my way. I usually ignore them, because most of the time the emails are spammy or over-general about discount travel or selling stuff I don't give a shit about, like fashionable tables or trench coats.

Insecurity is Fun!
But sometimes, it's a real thing that people send me emails about, where they want to give me some credit about doing whatever it is I do. And they offer me a cool badge and for about 5 seconds I feel a little better than I usually do. After that 5 seconds is up, I start wondering to myself, "Why did they choose me? How did they find me? What's wrong? Is there really no one else they could have chosen?" because whenever someone thinks I've done something good, I assume it's either because a) I've come in third in a two-horse race, or b) they want me to give them money for some sort of vanity prize, or c) my parents have gotten to them, and either guilted them into making me think I'm cool, or paid them to make me think I'm normal.

I blame her.
I think I haven't mentioned this particular unfounded paranoia of mine, which has nothing to do with my parents and everything to do with my own personal crazy. Starting when I was about 8 and I saw this Vegas hypnotist on TV, I became convinced that my life wasn't real, and that I was in fact miming my every waking act in front of my 2nd grade class while they laughed, and at some point in my life our guest-speaker hypnotist was going to snap me out of the trance and I would be returned to 2nd grade, my life unlived and pretend. I would be left to deal with the playground jeers of my classmates who'd watched me miming taking dumps and masturbating and goodness knows what else.

I blame him.
Entering adolescence, I mostly abandoned the hypnotist thing in favor of the camera forever pointed on my bedroom and bathroom, making movies of me doing stuff for my peers to snicker at. Not that I've completely given up on the fear (hope?) that I might be returned to 2nd grade to start my life over again. Given that this camera issue was way pre-Internet, I suppose the peer-sharing aspect would have had to involve a lot of VHS tapes.

Stupid body.
And then I got my period. I was 12. It was a bit early, but not too abnormally so. For some reason, no one I knew ever talked about periods except my mother and some people who taught us about sex ed and ovaries and stuff. The whole thing was cloaked in crushing, unbearable mystery-shame. I could never bring myself to ask our PE teacher or school nurse for much-needed feminine hygiene items whenever that came up, because I was convinced I was the only person this was happening to. Any evidence to the contrary was because my parents, in their desire to protect me from the humiliation, had paid off the world and engineered hint-dropping, such as Judy Blume books and feminine hygiene advertising, to make me think it was normal that this fucking god-awful thing was happening to me.

Welcome to the shitrealm of my ridiculous First World insecurities.

Anyway, if you don't want to punch me in the neck after that whole unrelated mess, please take a second of your time to notice the cool new badge from ExpatsBlog. They found me somehow. At the moment I'm just trying to feel good and not suspicious. Apparently, I also have to plug myself (hee! plug myself!) a bit and get readers to write something here about how I'm great and not a complete fuckup loser.

Even if you're just my mom and dad using various socks, I'd be ever so pleased.

Thanks for putting up with me.

It's not about him. It's about me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nothing Out Of The Ordinary

I'm not sure if it's the constant argument I'm having with my brain (shut up, Brain!) or just the fact that pretty much absolutely nothing of post-able interest is going on in my life right now that I haven't managed to write anything in awhile.

What a fucking sentence! Let me just read that again and decide if it's cool or if I want to punch myself in the neck.

I'm cool with it. The sentence stays. Also, if I take it out, this sentence I'm writing right now won't make any sense, so I'm pretty much stuck in.

So maybe it's the approach of Kurban Bayramı that got me thinking about animals. For one thing, everywhere I go has been awash in kittens lately. The neighbor took in an abandoned litter of 4 about a month ago and recently released them into the garden, where they frolicked merrily and got underfoot unnervingly. The kids loved them and you could scoop them all up at once and have an armful of kittens.

I was fine with them living outside.

They're for real.
On campus, the friendly, randy male everyone likes, the one who gets to come to class sometimes, fathered his second litter. He may have fathered a 3rd by one of his daughters from the first litter. They are all impossibly cute. The recent thunderstorm apparently caused them to scatter in terror, but if that's the worst thing to happen to any animals in this blog post, they should be counting themselves very, very lucky right now. Even if they are wet.

The thunderstorm, by the way, is continuing to be fucking fabulous.

Anyway, the neighbor found another litter of 3 too-small kittens that maybe were orphaned or maybe abandoned because they were sick. They needed bottle-feeding, except then they all got the shits and they smelled gross and had goopy eyes. They howled constantly and she was up every couple of hours feeding them and, even though animals are nice and cute and stuff, I daresay she took that whole thing a bit far. Then they started dying one by one and since I don't hear them howling right now, I assume they didn't make it.

The other morning, I saw one of the healthy released kittens dead in the street. I haven't seen any of the others since then. I couldn't tell if it was car-dead or killed-by-another-animal-dead, but I kind of feel like sending Spider and Havuç to the cat farm was an okay idea, if anything because I don't have to know if they're dead or not, or see the blood coming out of their mouths. Except for the washing machine thing, but that was different.

Speaking of dead, White Dog. White Dog! Remember him? I do. He's been around since we moved here. He was a good dog, the kind that walked you home at night and didn't ask for food and chased all the other dogs away. Anyway, for a half year or so, he hadn't been well. He'd been walking for awhile like the hip dysplasia was getting the best of him, and he'd clearly lost his mojo. For 2 weeks, all he did was sleep in a decreasing pile of construction sand.

Then I noticed White Dog was gone. Figuring he didn't have another winter left in him, I clung to the tiniest shred of hope someone had had him put down. Which is sort of what happened, but not exactly. Turns out some fuckhead dickass neighbor called the Belediye to complain about the dogs lying around in the street. So the dog catcher came round and collected White Dog, Black Dog, and Zeytin, an exhuberant new lab-ish young dog that needs to learn some fucking manners. Some neighbors took responsibility for Black Dog and Zeytin and got them back. They tried to get White Dog back too, but since they weren't his real owners, they couldn't. Quite how the Belediye determines whether someone is a real owner or not of a street dog I'll never know. So White Dog got the Big Sleep.

I don't believe in Heaven, so this will have to do.

I just hope they were nice to him in the process. He was a good dog.

And then, of course, there's Kurban Bayramı. Like last year, I was kind of gearing myself up again this year to go and watch the sacrificing. Except I just found out last week that LE will be staying with me over the Bayram because BE is going to be with Cengiz Amca's family down on the Aegean Coast. So that's my excuse this year for not watching the killing. I keep telling myself this.

Might be a bit much for the wee fellow.
No, really. Not having been exposed much to animal death as the Circle of Life, the boy might not admire the cultural edification of slaughter and butchering as much as I would, theoretically. Lots of cognitive dissonance to deal with there. I asked him the other day if he wanted to go watch the sacrifice, and he was all, "But hurting animals is bad."

So that's it. I'm afraid a bit of sacrificing might make the boy a vegetarian and then I'll be stuck cooking vegetarian food for the remainder of the time he lives with me.

Imagine this person tells you he only wants to eat vegetables because hurting animals is wrong. Do you say "Eat yer fucking meat and shut it?" Really?
Maybe we'll go watch next year, when he's all grown up.

P.S. Check out what happened today!

It's momentous!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guilt Orchid Orphans

Remember my orchid? And how I was gonna find the special dirt for it and everything? Well, I found the special dirt and it wasn't that hard. The florist also gave LE a bunch of daisies that was on its last legs, then he gave him another one to give to me.

Nice stuff like that just happens here. A lot, actually.

Anyway, I got to thinking about the orchid, now that it is with child.

Except apparently orchid babies are called keikis. It's cute they have a special name.

So this orchid. I never would have bought an orchid myself. The last one I had, one my mom gave me like 20 years ago, died slowly for no apparent reason and I felt awful for killing such a delicate thing.

But this orchid even had an unfortunate providence to begin with. Shortly after BE and I split up, like a week after I kicked him out of the house, he came by while I was at work (he had a key for awhile), and left me a diamond ring, an orchid, and some red rose petals scattered on the floor and around the orchid.

Guilty guilty guilty. Guilty for making him feel bad. Wait, what?

Well, you know how it is.

Also guilty for not wanting any of that stuff. Guilty for being mad at him all over again for not knowing that I wouldn't want that stuff. Guilty for feeling sad for whoever had told him that might be a good way to win me back, and for not being the sort of person who could be made happy by jewelry and flowers and romantic gestures, however belated and surreal. Guilty for being annoyed that I would have to clean up the rose petals.

I gave him the ring back. And then I felt guilty that I was now saddled with the care of an orchid that was completely innocent and had nothing to do with any of this.

So I asked my mom how to deal with the thing, and found a reasonable spot for it to live, and carried on like that.

And it didn't die. Then it grew. A smashed cigarette box holds the pot up straight in the bowl because it grew so much it couldn't stand up by itself and I had to MacGuyver it a little. When my mom was here for Christmas, she showed me where to prune it, so I did. And this year at the beginning of summer it flowered again.

For some reason, the orchid doesn't hate me. I don't hate it either. It just makes me feel kind of bad. Not that I blame the orchid.

After it flowered, it started having babies. There are two of them. I snipped one of them off and stuck it in the potting mix I bought from Mustafa the Florist. The other one, I'm waiting for the flower to drop before planting it.

And I have a sinking feeling the Guilt Orchid's babies are going to take. I'm not sure what to do with them. Usually I give my flower babies to my mother-in-law, but this seems inappropriate somehow. I offered one to a friend who knows the Guilt Orchid's life story, but he's afraid of killing the baby. So I'm a bit stuck on this one.

Making peace with the orchid.
Also it's hard to decide what all the orchid means, at this point. A symbol of lingering guilt? Or does it mean something cheesy about a new life and getting by against the odds or whatever?

Maybe it's just a flower that's been genetically modified to survive a houseplant spaz like me.

Anyway, want a baby orchid that may be a really good omen, or a really bad one, or no sort of omen at all?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Mission: The Missing Piece

But First, An Unrelated Topic

So I was gonna do a post about the obsolete-ness of blogs like mine. It's so early 2000s, journal-writing blogs like mine. This has been kind of smacking me in the face for the last few days because last week we had a unit on social networking in the class I'm teaching, and not only do none of those kids (born in 1994, fuck!) read blogs, none of them even use forums anymore except for the same reasons I do, which is to find the answer to a problem like, "My computer is plugged in but not charging."

Blogs nowadays are supposed be on a single, focused, Google-able, tag-able topic, which this blog is not. I mean, in my my mind it's on a single topic (the topic here is ME, by the way, and my fucking brain and the tiny events that make up the experience that creates ME). But in Internetland, this blog is a bunch of topics, like mothering and being an expat and living in Turkey and ME ME ME ME ME. Except ME isn't something turning up in Google searches, as much as I like to think I am the center of the universe.

A few students said they read blogs for football. A few clever ones read them for news commentary. The programmer types read programmer stuff, and apparently blogs are a good source of game cracks and links to pirate stuff. But that's it.

Won't mess with this shit.
As for online forums (which I'm pretty sure should be fora in the plural, but I don't want to be a dick), the information you get from those is pretty dodgy. Even my "plugged in not charging" problem, I solved with someone's blog. Forums contain scary techie people who tell you to do stuff with the computer's insides via something in the Start menu, that, while in English words, makes no sense at all. Or they get all snarky and insult each other in Klingon or whatever. Forums get way too incestuous and in-groupy-y Also they want to know a bunch of stuff about your computer that I have no idea about, and can't find from looking at my computer's underside. It's embarrassing all around.

Just this week on the one forum I look at regularly, the renegades from Dave's ESL cafe, one of the super champion moderators, a guy who knows how to mess with with the forum's insides, announced he was leaving the forum because the medium has become obsolete. Smack!

Crap. Because without certain forums, there were a few years there I might not have gotten through on my own. But apparently the kids these days are doing their own thing. Good for them. They pretty much own the medium anyway. The Internet medium, I mean. Digital natives and all that. It's kind of like the "Who Owns English" argument, but more fluid and less populated with grouchy old men. It's cool.

(Hint: Native speakers totally don't own English anymore. Suck it.)

One reason the forum was becoming obsolete was that I couldn't find the "Like" button.
And it's apparent from both forums, Dave's and the renegade one, that people are going to more useful places for information. Even the socialization has moved elsewhere. After the moderator resigned, we all gave our real names so we could become friends on Facebook.

And Now, The Topic At Hand

And to honor my online curmudgeonliness, I shall now change topics comletely. Ha!

It's ever so slightly cooler.
So I mentioned about buying a new iPhone while I was in the States. I didn't get the cool one everyone was camping out for. I didn't even get the one before that. I got the even-older version, which I mostly envied for its titanium outside (virtually kid-proof!) and super-tough airplane glass front and the two-way camera and the fact that the new battery would last longer than my existing one.

Which left me with a mostly perfectly decent old iPhone that needed getting rid of. So I found a guy who wants the old phone. I waited a month or so after getting the new phone activated by the tax people and Turkcell, just to make sure it wasn't going to mysteriously quit working, and then went about erasing everything on the old phone so I could give it to this fellow who wants it.

It came time to make the exchange, with the phone all plugged into the computer after the system restore, and the phone was asking for the Simcard. The Simcard was ready, as were the tequila shots, and I discovered there was a problem with that hole in the top of the old phone I didn't remember being there.

It turns out I'd somehow lost the little thingie you put the Simcard into and shove into the phone. It's small and looks like a piece of trash left over from a toy.

Serious business, only with lemons.

Does this thingie have a name? I don't know. Online, it was alternately referred to as a "tray" and a "Simcard holder." No matter. Mine was lost somewhere in the house I-don't-know-how-long-ago. And there were tequila shots waiting. So.

So anyway, this morning I undertook a wee search of the missing Simcard thingie. The fact that it was lost was baffling me, because I'm usually pretty anal about stuff like this. I have a collection of spare buttons that come with clothes. I have a special ashtray for tiny broken things to be fixed at a later date. I own a glue gun and I carry a tiny screwdriver in my purse.

But the Simcard thingie wasn't in any of the places it was supposed to be. Not in the basket of tiny useful things even my cleaner knows about, nor in the ashtray of even tinier things. Nor was it in the fake-silver tray where tiny stuff sometimes turns up. Or amid the crap on the desk where it might have gotten lost, not even in the cup of almost-dry pens and broken pencils.

I was faced with a choice. Tear up the entire house looking for that tiny bit of plastic that most likely has been thrown away or vacuumed up sometime in the last month, or try my luck outside buying a new one. I opted for the latter. Crazy, I know.

You want this kind of a place.
My first idea was to go to one of those little phone-electronics shops. Those places can do anything. When I went to Turkcell awhile back to find out about getting my Simcard cut into a micro Simcard for the iPhone 4, the girl was a bit bitchy and told me to come back a few days later and wanted to charge me 10 lira. So I marched a few doors down to the phone-electronics shop, where they had a cool little puncher thingie just for cutting Simcards into micro Simcards, and the guys were sweet and charged me 3 lira.
I even still have this thingie, from the Simcard cutting.

But then I ended up spending the day at a shopping mall, mostly because I wanted the good food therein, plus some Macro Center pork and cheese, plus the company of two nice new teachers who've just arrived here and my own company was looking bleak for the day. Before I met up with my friends, I went to a posh electronics shop that's the closest thing to an Apple Store because they mostly sell overpriced Apple accessories, such as 75tl iPhone cases.

I barely know what to call the Simcard thingie in English, so trying to call it something in Turkish proved challenging. So I called it "that little thing that holds the Simcard." It took some doing, but they got it. Only they didn't have that and sent me to Turkcell. Before Turkcell, I tried Techno SA, who also sent me to Turkcell. Turckcell told me to go to a place called Genpa somewhere in Etiler. I wasn't into that. I asked if they might have it at one of those little phone-electronics shops, and the guy said, "No, you'll never find it at one of those places," with a bit of disdain. And oddly enough, after explaining the little Simcard thingie several times in Turkish, my ability to explain it got worse, not better. The only thing I figured out was that likening it to a drawer was really a bad strategy.

Guys like this can do anything.
When I got back to my neighborhood, I tried the local Turkcell just for kicks and also because the bitchy girl was busy. Then I went down to the phone-electronics shop that punched my Simcard. They had all sorts of iPhone parts lying around-- replacement screens and cases, the cool earphones with the volume control, and interesting-looking inside bits. It was more heartening because they asked if I wanted black or white, and then went and had a look. No dice. So I tried the phone-electronics shop a few doors down. By now, my ability to explain the Simcard thingie had completely deteriorated. First, they offered me a Simcard. Then they offered me the outside of a cut Simcard, for free no less. Then they got out some tweezers, apparently to remove the Simcard they thought was stuck in my phone.
But the orchid babies are another story entirely.

Finally, we managed to work it out. And I'll be damned if they didn't have one. It looked a bit worse for wear, and it occurred to me it was probably best not to ask where it came from, but there it was. I'm really glad I didn't listen to anyone who was telling me those little shops wouldn't have it. It means my Turkey Spider Sense of where to find things is developing all right.

It almost makes me feel good enough to take on the electric company for overcharging me for the month we were out of town. Almost. I've heard that process involves a dilekçi and the account isn't in my name anyway.

Still, I definitely feel good enough to try to find some orchid potting mix so I can try to root some orchid babies I now have.

To celebrate, I fried up a massive T-bone steak I'd paid way too much for because I totally fucking earned it.

Rewarding myself with meat. Hooray!