Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finally, Some Damned Recognition

Go, me!

It's rare that I get proper recognition for this little blog project of mine.

But remember last week or so when that Internations Top Expat Blog badge appeared in the sidebar? I do, because I put it there. It's a real thing, that badge. And the post I wrote for them is up, complete with a picture of me because I know you've all been dying to know what I look like.

Those of you who don't already know me, that is.

Internations Featured Blog. Check me out!

Bread: A Vignette

Love me! I love you!
In Turkey, it's a sin to waste bread or throw bread out or in other way abuse bread. Lots of people won't even throw away crumbs they've just swept off the table. They put them on the sill or toss them out of the window for the birds to eat.

Yesterday, a taxi driver stopped his car in the middle of the street and got out. I wondered why he was doing that, as it was raining a little and drivers usually wait in the car for someone to come out of the house.

And then I saw a sad, damp loaf of bread lying in the middle of the street. The driver picked it up and rested it gently on a nearby ledge. Then he got back into his taxi and drove away.

That is all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Turkish Words Used As Sound Effects In Primitive Cartoons: Part II

"Yağ" means both "fat" and oil. The "g" is silent, for those not in the know.

"Yani" is a word I love in Turkish because it's ever so useful. It can be a filler, to mean like "so" in English, marking the fact that you're trailing off at the end of the sentence, or you can use it in the middle to mean, "I mean...," which insures that your interlocutor will continue listening without getting bored while you fish in your yabancı way for something to say. My tattoo guy remarked that yabancı say "yani" way too much, to which I replied that foreigners who learned English by immersion tend to say "fuck" way too much, in the wrong places in sentences.

And I'm not one to talk but I know what I mean. You can also reply to what someone says with "yani" to mean, "What you said is what I meant to say but your way is just as much or more agreeable." It all depends on the intonation.

"Yan" means "side" and can be used in a variety of grammatically challenging ways that don't translate at all. It doesn't stop my students from trying, though. 

Turkish is very complicated.

"Nar" means pomegranate and it's just a cool-sounding word. A month or so back, my friend and I made homemade grenadine and used it in a drink dubbed the Nartini but he's totally the one who thought of that name.

"Yayaya" never ceases to amuse me. It means "to pedestrians" and it appears on street signs that say "Yayaya yol ver," meaning "give way to pedestrians." But it doesn't matter because people generally ignore these signs, except me, apparently.

I like "hadi" because it's one of those words, in certain uses, that exactly matches English. By itself, it means the same as "come on," in the sense of "Hurry up!" and also "Oh, right" (said sarcastically) or "You're shitting me" (without the "shit" connotation) and "Seriously? Is that the best you can do?" It take some other meanings in conjunction with other words, but it's pretty easy to figure out.

"Ye! Ye! Ye!" means "Eat! Eat! Eat!" I suppose the uses of that re-triplicated thing are fairly obvious.

This is an inside joke. Hah!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tattoo: It's Way Less Sordid This Time

Even though I liked my tattoo, I had been thinking for some time it was time to get it fixed up. Seeing as how I'm a grown-up and all.

Well, I finally did it. And it's finally finished, after 4 trips to Taksim to get it worked on.

The new tattoo was nothing like the first time I got a tattoo. This guy Ruhsel has a real studio and it's clean and comfortable. He was recommended by two friends. He's very professional and does a good job. I totally recommend him.

So anyway, here it is, in stages. It was damn hard to take pictures of these.

 Here's the original, in case you've forgotten.

What I liked about this whole process was that I described the original to Ruhsel and told him what I wanted, and he just took it from there. He was working on a guy's chest at the time, with the guy's girlfriend or whatever squealing nearby.

He asked me if I wanted the tree because I love trees or because I thought it would cover the dragon well. I had to think about that for a second. I mean, trees are nice and everything and I love them in the abstract because they give us air and shade and stuff. I've even hugged a few trees and that was fun. But really, I just like organic forms like trees and veins and water and leaves and cells. But I couldn't do all this in Turkish at that particular moment, so I just said, "Both."

So he sent me in to check out some pictures he had on his computer. While I was there, this British guy came in and said something incomprehensible to the woman who has recently set up shop there. Except she totally understood him. He'd asked, in really appalling English, "How much for a tattoo?" I know that as a descriptivist I'm not supposed to be all judgmental about various dialects, but perhaps I just thought the guy was a dick. She and Ruhsel conferred on the price and it was high for some picture of lips he wanted, and he left. It turned out the woman was a Cypriot, which was why she could deal with that guy's English.

I found some tree bits I liked-- trunks and roots and leaves and branches-- and got their email and also went on my way.

I also emailed some photos of some other trees I'd found, plus the original, and turned up exactly on time for my appointment, and I'm wont to do. Ruhsel just started drawing on my leg and it was cool.

This first bit of inking took the longest. But another thing I discovered I liked about getting a tattoo was the other people coming wanting tattoos and what they wanted. A pair of bankers turned up in button-down shirts wanting the massive tigers or whatever across their chests fixed up. Ruhsel even asked my permission if it was okay for them to come in while he was working on me, even though I was wearing sweatpants and was totally modestly covered except for the top of my leg. Some other women came in wanting feathers. Actually, a surprising number of women came in over the 4 appointments wanting feathers. Another guy came in with his girlfriend wanting, across his back, an angel holding a baby. Because the photo he'd brought had a name and some dates on it, close-together dates, I really wanted to tell him the picture was from a guy whose baby had died, but I didn't have the heart or guts to do it. Those two were clearly on their own trip.

This part didn't take too long. Another thing that was cool about getting a tattoo in Turkey was that Ruhsel's wife has recently had a baby. Their son was about a month old at the time I was getting the work done. So most of the time for tattoo-getting, we were talking about babies and nursing and the cool things babies do and how they make their mamas' lives difficult and how they're extremely confusing and terrifying and cute. Not exactly the tattoo conversation I'd expect, but pleasant nonetheless.

This part didn't take long either. Pardon my ass. By this time, it was getting increasingly difficult to take photos by myself in the mirror without including my ass. I'd been thinking purple flowers but Ruhsel thought it would be too dark and in retrospect, I agree with him. In any case, it was a good choice because when LE saw the pink flowers, he thought he might like to have a tattoo. I told him about the needles and he became decidedly less keen.

The finished deal. I had a friend take this picture.

One thing among many things that I like about this tattoo is that the tree looks (to me) like a woman turning into a tree. Like Daphne had herself turned into a tree (Daphne- Defne- laurel tree) to escape getting raped by Apollo.

Like sometimes you have to turn yourself into something else to get out of something you don't want. Ruhsel liked the story, though he didn't see the picture so much. But that was okay.

And so there it ends. My second tattoo story is way more grown-up than the first, and it was just as much fun in a whole different way. Maybe because it wasn't nearly as scary.

Black Sea Tattoo
İstiklal Caddesi No. 165 Kat 1 Beyoğlu
0212 252 8055

(It's just past Galatasaray Lisesi, next to House Cafe, so, easy to find too!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Divorce Step 3: Anticlimactic! But Cool!

So yeah, I just mentioned all offhandedly and shit in my last post that the long-awaited court date for our divorce had suddenly arrived.

This is something that happens a lot in Turkey. You wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait for something to happen, getting all stressed and worried about it. And I was getting worried, seeing as I have a conference out of town this week, an upcoming move, and the days before the judges all fuck off for summer holidays are ticking closer and closer. The things you're waiting for always have the potential of not fitting into your schedule. But then, after weeks of waiting, the thing you were waiting for suddenly and with little fanfare gets finished.

That's what getting divorced was like. Lucky for me, getting divorced fit nicely into my work schedule. We were in exams week, and I had no classes or exams scheduled for that day. I'd planned to spend the morning pacing around the house trying to figure out what one wears to a divorce, but instead spent the morning making Mother's Day lotion with a friend. Best plan ever. Making lotion is super-fun, and a good, sympathetic friend who acts like you're not going completely insane also helps. We listened to Jamiroquai and hardly made a mess at all and I actually only spent a half hour or so getting dressed. Or maybe it was more. I wouldn't know.

When it came time to go get divorced, I walked down to the minibus like I always do, and got on, avoiding the seat with a big step under it, and listened to music on my iPhone. Acoustic Sublime. I know, right? And I rode that to the metrobus which stops conveniently in front of the new courthouse.

Only in Turkish, it's not the courthouse. Courthouse sounds all quaint and friendly, with pillars and wisteria. In Turkish, it's the Palace of Justice, which sounds like the place superheroes convene to decide how best to fight bad guys and mete out justice and goodness. The best part about this particular Palace of Justice, aside from its having its own metrobus stop, was that there's a sign out front advertising that it's the biggest Palace of Justice in Europe.

Hee! The palace is bigger, therefore there must be way more justice going on in there. We have way more justice than Europe! Check us out! Part of the reason the sign is funny is that it was put there by the construction company that built the Palace of Justice. Only the Palace has been finished for over a year, but the sign is still there. You just can't get over all the justice, can you?

I hate the goddamned convenient metrobus.

 The whole time I was riding public transportation all dressed for my divorce, I felt like being one of those people on public transportation who tells everyone what I'm doing there.

"Hi," I wanted to say to the surly but oddly attractive driver. "I'm Stranger and I have to go get divorced now. After that I might go shopping."

"Oh," I wanted to say to the lady who was telling everyone she was going to visit her son. "Well, I'm on my way to get divorced. I'm going to the Palace of Justice."

But I just listened to Sublime. And then I got off at the right stop and found where I needed to go and went there.

Only there was a long line at the door. BE phoned me in a rage wondering where the hell I was even though I wasn't even late yet. In fact, I was early. Do you really think I'd be even a second late for my divorce? He yelled at me and then hung up without saying goodbye. "Motherfucker," I said into the dead phone. Then I remembered I was here to get divorced from this and I was all, "Hooray!" I asked the security guard what the line was for and he told me it was to get in to the Palace of Justice. "It's very crowded," he said. Apparently, there is so much justice being meted out in there, you have to wait in line to get some.

No matter. The line gave me time for a cigarette. When I reached the security guard, he seemed cheerful I wasn't mad at him for making me wait in line. "Hell no!" I wanted to say. "I'm here for a divorce!" Instead he complimented me on my Turkish, which people often do, giving me a false sense that I speak Turkish well. Which in all honesty I completely don't at all. I just know enough to trick people into talking really fast. Fucking great.

Actual Palace of Justice toilet paper holder.
The first thing I did upon entering the Palace of Justice was find a toilet because I was full of nervous pee. There was no toilet paper, though, which made me wonder a little how much justice there actually was in this place? After that, I was confounded by the signs pointing to our courtroom so I asked at the information desk and was sent upstairs where I was further confounded but eventually found the right courtroom, along with some other people waiting to get divorced.

BE tried really hard to be a dick because that's what he's like. Except he's not really a dick by nature-- that's a special thing just for me. And we had to wait a really long time for the judge anyway, so after a few minutes he started acting nice and chatting with the lawyer and I, which was a good thing because we had to wait like an hour. She was wearing this cool cape that I thought was a cape at first, but actually was a Turkish lawyer coat.

My lawyer coached us on the stuff a judge might ask, like did I really want to get divorced. She reminded me to whisper to her if I didn't understand something, because if the judge thought I didn't speak Turkish, I would have to pay for an interpreter. I just tried to look game, but actually I was imagining a dour old religious man appointed by AKP who would be fixing to make us give the marriage another go. I imagined questions about adultery during the year of separation being asked in Ottoman legal Turkish.

Could have been way worse.
Instead, when we were finally granted access, the judge turned out to be a middle-aged woman. And while the courtroom looked like a real courtroom (albeit in miniature), the judge's table was littered with papers and folders and piles of stuff that reminded me this was just another bureaucratic thing we were dealing with. She asked me if it was my signature on the documents, and she asked BE a few other things about the agreement, but the whole point of the proceedings as far as I could tell was to dictate the divorce decree to a clerk.

When we got married, I had no idea what the marriage guy was asking me. Again, this was because we didn't want to pay extra for an interpreter. Someone had told me ahead of time the correct answer was "yes," and since I understood he asking yes-no questions, I just said "yes."

I understood my divorce way better. The other way my divorce differed from my marriage is that it takes way longer to get divorced than it does to get married, even if you subtract the waiting time.

Cures what ails ya, in any situation, thank goodness.
Afterwards, BE refused to shake my hand when I offered as a joke to lighten the mood. But he wanted to go for tea so we wandered around the Palace of Justice for awhile looking for the tea place. It was on the top floor. We smoked a bunch of cigarettes and drank tea and talked about LE and stuff he does and how we're going to deal with this stupid school thing, all newly fucked up by AKP. It was just like when we were married only we were divorced.

Several times, I had to physically use my hand to wipe the smile from my face just to be polite to BE, who was very sad and verging on tears but at least he didn't cry.

When it came time to go, I showed my ex-husband the most affection I've willingly shown him in a long time. I hugged him even though he didn't want to be hugged, and kissed both of his cheeks which he seemed okay with, then I patted one cheek and rubbed the back of his head. I thanked him even though there was no reason in the world to thank him except that he let me go after all that time of trying to be let go without a fuss.

And the fuss could have been a whole lot worse.
They don't have these here.

So after that, I went to eat a hamburger at Carl's Jr. because BE and my lawyer had been talking about that and it planted a seed. Between bites, I messaged everyone I know that I was divorced. Then I bought a swimsuit.

After that, I went to listen to a Türk sanat music concert where my student had a solo and life went on in this weird way it keeps on doing...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Clusterfucked! Dumbass Cat And Adventures in Pet Care

He's into bags.
Havuç is a very stupid cat. He's the kind of cat you can yell at 20 times for doing the same annoying thing and he'll keep doing it. Of course, he's also nice because he's the kid of cat that will let a 5-year-old poke his eyes and explore his ears and the worst thing he'll do is go somewhere else. He also lets grown-ups use his own paws to play his belly like a drum, or hold him up to pretend he's Godzilla doing the Can-Can.

Not that I would know anything about those last things. Ahem.

Last week, Havuç fell off the balcony. At first I wasn't sure if he'd escaped or fallen. But when he didn't do it again for several days, I figured he'd fallen because if he'd found an escape route he was sure to do it again. Havuç is annoying like that. And it was seriously annoying fetching him back to the house because the only way to reach him in the next door garden was by shuffling through armpit-high nettle.

My name is Havuç People call me Havuç.
I also figured if he'd fallen once, he would be more careful after that. We live on the 4th floor by Turkish counting and the 5th by American.

But I forgot how stupid Havuç is. The other night we came home late after Turkish lessons and heard him meowing. He was huddled under a wooden box thingie in the next-door garden, looking pathetic, and he couldn't walk on one leg.

There was fuck-all I could do about it then. It was LE's bedtime and he was crabby. Obvious cat pain, but no blood. I set Havuç up with a pillow and a towel in the bathroom and hoped for the best.

No dice. But I still had to go to work in the morning and get the boy to school. I felt really bad for the stupid fucking cat, so I came home at lunch and took him to the neighborhood vet. The vet took one look at Havuç's leg and declared he needed an x-ray. Without an x-ray, he didn't want to do anything for fear of causing unnecessary pain or making the leg worse.

Problem 1. The vet's x-ray machine was broken. And apparently there are no x-rays anywhere near my house, meaning an afternoon trip on the minibus with the heavy, howling cat in his carrier. Fucking hooray.

Problem 2. None of the vets my guy recommended have recent information posted online. There was a phone number no one answered and an unclear location on Google Maps.

Undeterred, I went and taught my two remaining classes. For the last class, I had decided to do my videotaped observation we are now required to complete. I'd chosen this class, down to 10 students from the 26 on the list, because last week I'd bribed them to be nice and do their work for the remaining 6 days in return for a C. They suddenly became very enthusiastic.

Right at the end of my class before the observation, my period decided to explode through the tampon and when I went to deal with that, there was no toilet paper and the girl in the next stall was my student. That meant I needed coffee.

And while I was waiting for the coffee machine, an email came from my lawyer saying the judge wanted us in for the divorce the next day. I called BE and told him the time. He acted all balky, like that was a bad time for him. I was all, "The fuck that is a bad time for you. We need to get to get this shit done." And he demurred because what on earth other chance did he have?

So it wasn't a clusterfuck in the real sense but in my mind it was like that. Fucked up dumbass cat! Embarrassing period problem! Observation! Divorce tomorrow! Hooray! Fuck!

I later watched the videotape of my observation and I was grinning like an idiot the whole time, even dancing around a little while my students were working. And no, it wasn't because of this one student wearing a V-neck. Or maybe just a little bit because of that. Anyway.

So I got back to the office and tried to sort out the cat thing. A fabulous co-worker agreed to come along, especially because they've put in a Macro under the vet. And another fabulous co-worker offered to let us use her car. Suddenly it all became a super fun adventure, getting the dumbass cat patched up.

Doped the fuck up.

The vet, who'd I'd found and located through a series of phone calls, poked around Havuç. Havuç didn't care for it at all. So he got shot up with some methadone or something that made him unable to move but also unable to blink. Except for the blinking thing, I kind of wanted me some of that.

They did some x-rays and it turned out the stupid fucking cat has broken his leg. By falling off the balcony a second time.

So they made this gorgeous red cast. I was sorry LE was missing the whole thing because he adores medical procedures. And then they gave him an Elizabethan collar which was, more than I care to admit, the main outcome I'd hoped for from this particular vet visit.
Hee! No wait... No. Hee!

No, actually, I admit it. I'm fucking evil and there's nothing funnier than a cat in one of those collars.

Needs a designated driver.

When I got home, I set the poor pathetic drugged cat up in the bathroom and waited for him to do something. He didn't for awhile but then he started struggling around all over the place, turning drugged-cat red-cast somersaults and generally having a rough time of it. The collar and the cast were pissing him off unimaginably. As far as I could tell, he hadn't blinked for like 3 hours so I pressed his eyes closed for him a few times.
Blink, damn you!

After awhile he ventured out of the bathroom. One of his claws was bleeding from trying to pull the collar off and he didn't so much venture as tumble around into the light. He tracked blood everywhere. When I dumped him back in the bathroom I saw there was blood smeared all over the floor and walls.

And what is there to do in that case but shut the bathroom door and pretend it's not happening? Plus, a neighbor came over with a request so bizarre I think it needs to be saved for another story.

While the neighbor was changing into another outfit (yeah, I told you it was weird), I went and checked in on the cat again. He'd added to his blood decorations by pissing all over, taking off his cast (the collar is useless but funny! Who thought of this shit? How is a cat supposed to eat and drink in one of those?), and then rolling in the piss, the wonderful little superhero.

The Big Sleep?!
Before we'd gone to the vet, my friend and I'd set a monetary limit on how much I'd pay for the dumbass cat. Beyond that, we were tying to work out how to say The Big Sleep. The vet fee was over  the comfort limit, but not quite enough to ask for The Big Sleep.

Fucking expensive.
That being said, after he got the cast off and coated himself in pee and I removed the collar, the cat seemed happier. It struck me that the 385 lira I'd spent (85 over the limit) was completely pointless other than the few hours of comfort the vet-dope had given him, and the comparative joy he'd now found in life by not having to wear the cast and the collar. So cats, like people, find their joy in relative happinesses. Cool!

So now he's still limping around, but maybe in a little less pain. Goodness knows why he's in less pain, but he is. It's possible he'd also dislocated something and the vet fixed it. Also, Spider fucking hates him right now. Whenever she gets near him, she hisses and puffs up and runs away. He must have some sort of smell that appalls other cats. I don't know if it's the drugs or the leg or something else that's making her hate him so much. They used to be such good buds.

And even though Havuç is a dumbass cat, I hope it's not the smell of death.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spectacularly Bad Mom: A True Story

This actually happened.

He really did say that. Hee!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Bout Of Insanity

Through a series of relatively uninteresting events it has arisen that I might have to move soon. It's okay. It's just a downstairs move. But it came up all of a sudden and because it's just downstairs, I've done practically nothing to prepare for the move.

Instead, I've done a whole lot of things not related to moving. Or vaguely moving-related. Yesterday, when we had the day off, I tried all of LE's clothes on him to see which ones didn't fit anymore. He was surprisingly easy-going for the whole process, and we got rid of about half his clothes. So at least that's getting rid of stuff.

Then I threw out some other stuff.

Today, instead of packing to move, I decided it was a good idea to start organizing LE's toys and throwing out the crappy ones while he's not home. He shares my own inexplicably and deeply passionate againstness of getting rid of any one single thing, ever. So my doing this with his toys while he's not here is completely evil. I was always extremely sensitive about throwing stuff away. Just ask my mom.

And then, Spider became extraordinarily interested in this little sack of dead batteries in the kitchen. She carried it off triumphantly, as she does. And I thought, "What the fuck is in that sack of dead batteries she wants so much? And moreover, why the fuck do I have a little sack of dead batteries?"

So it's possible I'm being cool about the move but also going a little insane.

Anyway, organizing the toys. I started with one little basket in the living room.This doesn't include the 1-2-3 boxes or all the toys in the child's bedroom. Which is no longer a bedroom because it no longer has a bed. It's a toy hole. Anyway. I started putting the toys into piles and this is what I ended up with.

Boy stuff includes tools, police stuff, and army stuff, including little men.

You know what the cats are doing now?

That's right. The cats are killing the joker cap and batting the small balls everywhere.

Thereby making a wreck of these piles.
And then you know what I did? Took pictures of the piles, cleverly labelled them in MSPaint, and wrote this blog instead of dealing with the toys further, or even protecting the piles from the cats. So it's as though I did nothing but make a tremendous mess.

Completely fucking insane.