Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sucker Bet

At some point recently, I taught LE about making bets. It started off as trying to be a marvelously clever mom teaching him stuff, like, "I'll bet you I can download the 4th season of Regular Show by tomorrow. Just stop bitching." If I won, I got a massage. If I lost, he got to punch me in the arm. So it was pretty much a win-win because he doesn't punch very hard and his aim isn't good enough to hit the dead arm sweet spot. I'm screwed when he learns how to do that.

Then I started using betting as a bargaining chip, like when we were coming home late in a taxi and I knew there was no way in hell I was going to be able to carry him up the stairs if he fell asleep. He's gotten pretty big the last few months. So I'd bet, "If you can stay awake, I'll give you a massage. If you fall asleep, I get to punch you in the arm."

I wouldn't have punched him hard, even if he did fall asleep, which of course he didn't because a winning a massage in a bet is like the Holy Grail of stuff you get in our house.

But tonight, there was the issue of what to leave out for Santa. My dad sent a Santa video telling LE to go to sleep so Santa could come and advising him to leave out milk and cookies. LE was worried because we don't have cookies, so I assured him the candy-coated walnuts that came with our Chinese food would do nicely.

Even the condensation on a milk glass is unacceptable.

But then there was the issue of the milk. The thing is, I hate milk. I hate milk with the white-hot burning passion of 1,000 suns. If I think about milk for too long, I get all queasy. I don't like it when milk touches my skin. If someone were to give me a pile of dogshit and a glass of milk and told me I had to choose which one to stick my tongue into, I would hesitate and think about it for a bit.

I'd probably opt for the milk, but still.

I tried to get LE to agree to leave out a glass of rum for Santa. No dice. He wasn't having it, no matter how much I promised him Santa would like rum ever so much more than milk. So then I tried to get my parents to corroborate my story that Santa prefers a nip of something warming over milk. But they didn't play nice. I claimed to remember leaving Santa brandy or cognac or something-- two glasses at that-- at a house we lived in when I was 7 or so. They claimed I was doing revisionist history. I claimed they were.

We both had our reasons for wanting to believe our particular versions of reality.

My mom suggested something involving a funnel, knowing I would never dump perfectly good milk down the sink just to please the kid. It was a good idea, but I was afraid the funnel idea might involve too much potential contact with milk. My dad concurred because he is also appalled by milk.

So I made LE a bet. I put a glass of milk and a glass of rum side by side on a plate of candy-coated walnuts. And because he was so insistent that Santa would drink the milk, I just went ahead and made a sucker bet with him, and bet that Santa would choose the rum.

Up till now, I've never made LE a sucker bet. Even when he wants to bet something completely ridiculous, like, "We don't have to go to work and school tomorrow," or "The moon isn't going to come out tonight," I'd never abused my superior knowledge of reality to earn massages or money, and that kid keeps trying to bet me money.

All this government corruption has caused me to lose my morals.

Probably it's about the Santa lie. I find myself working a little too hard to keep the Santa lie alive. Even tonight, when he was weeping into his pillow because I wasn't going to sleep (and thus I was preventing Santa from coming), I kept the lie alive. I told him Santa only doesn't come when kids aren't sleeping, but it doesn't count for grownups. I told him I talked to Santa last year and that Santa thought it wasn't fair that LE should receive no gifts because I was being naughty and not sleeping. And the previous year, according to a story I made up right then at that moment, I was watching a movie and watching for Santa at the same time, and I looked away from the tree for just a few seconds but when I looked back, the presents were all there and I didn't even see Santa.

It didn't work. He was still upset. Christmas gets a bit intense for kids. But that didn't stop me from making a sucker bet. I told him if Santa chooses the rum, he owes me a massage. If Santa chooses the milk, I owe him a massage.

Guess which one I'm drinking right now?
Red for haram and green for halal was an unfortunate Christmas decor-related mistake.
It's not like LE gives very good massages anyway. But at least we're sorted for beverage choices for future Christmases. So that's got to be worth something.

Maybe I can teach him to mix a martini.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Somewhat Stale Mix

I have lying around on my desktop a few mixes I made for the radio back when I was doing that. I don't get to do radio anymore because now that I have the boy all week, there's no time and I can't be bothered to go up to campus on weekends. I kind of miss radio, but I'll live.

Anyway, I made three mixes I never got to use. This one I did in the middle of Gezi stuff, but I never played it because the radio broke and I didn't really want to be there anyway. It's not really Gezi music because the Turks had that one covered. It was just music that I was thinking about at that time while I was worrying about people who were down there kicking ass and kicking myself because I couldn't be down there kicking ass.

I guess it's an okay mix. I was quite enamored of it at the time and for sure it has its moments.

Here you go.

Monday, December 16, 2013


There is no specific thing to report on. There are a few things to mention. I don't even know if they're worth mentioning.

I'm avoiding the topic of infrequent blogging. I tried to post earlier in the week, but Blogger wouldn't open so I gave up. That accounts for last week.

Here's one thing that happened. It snowed. When it snows everything simultaneously goes completely crazy and completely still.  But I wasn't glad about the snow this year. Last year, when the snow was way worse and Rektör didn't cancel school, I was still kind of happy about the snow. But this year when school wasn't cancelled and I was feeling that I might be inconvenienced in some way, I was all, "Oh, what the fuck." And I wasn't happy about it.

LE was. LE was ecstatic. It was like there were rainbow unicorn sparkles exploding out of him he was so
happy about the snow.

It's hard for those kid feelings not to rub off. Little boys are strange people indeed to share one's living space with. They do stuff like rant at you for 20 minutes because you used their saved-up tooth fairy money to break a 20. Even if you let them watch the whole time, and break the whole thing down into a step-by-step process, and lead them through a series of Socratic questions involving simple counting and arithmatic to show them what you're doing, even then they still get mad. You're a thieving witch who's taking away 3 of their money and replacing it with one.

Burn, witch. Burn.
But then after dinner they nuzzle into your armpit next to you on the sofa and for a moment are still. They sigh like they've always done, through the nose with the softest hint of voice. It's so good. Then they mention for the 67th time how happy they are it's snowing, and ask if they can look inside your nose. So all in all living with a little boy is an extraordinary experience.

Throughout the snowy day, things just seemed bleaker. Everything kind of sucked. It wasn't fun. The snow was absolutely perfect, too. The exact balance of wet and dry that begs frolicking. In the morning, I rushed LE off to school and had no fun whatsoever, not even with the pink cheeks and unicorn sparkles. I started wondering if I was dead inside.

Little boys have to jump up and try to touch everything they might be able reach. They pretend they weren't dancing when it was obvious they totally were.

Has no one heard of these?
I left work early because I was so tired and pissy and in no mood to have a snowy adventure like I did last year and went home planning to do something or other, but by the time I got there all I wanted was bed. So I went to bed. LE's preschool called around 4 to let me know LE's Big Boy School had been cancelled. I'd checked several times about school closures and had seen nothing about this. That's because school was closed after the teachers all decided they didn't want to come. No one bothered to inform anyone. Fortunately the preschool had just brought LE back and all was well. But it pissed me off.

Also, does that mean teachers can just do that, decide not to come to work because it's an especially sucky day and not worth the hassle to get there? Why don't we just do that?

It was around then I realized I was sick. For real sick. Like could barely move sick. But I went and fetched LE. I warned him I was probably getting sick. I wasn't 100% sure yet because sometimes you totally think you're getting sick but then you have a gin and Tylolhot before bed and the next day you wake up fine. I powered through the pain and we made gingerbread cookies because I had promised him and there was no way I was going to unleash the wrath that would ensue if we didn't make the cookies. Also there was no way I was going to suffer the guilt for being the selfish mom who denied the cookies just because I was pretty sure I was going to die.

At some point in the night, I wondered if I had the virus that would start the Zombie Apocalypse. That's how bad I felt.

Sometimes I get regular sick, but once in awhile I get Damn Sick. Completely incapacitated. After standing for 90 seconds all I can do is crumple into a ball and shiver miserably in bone coldness and drift off to sleep. The next day I was too sick to take LE to school. He makes his own breakfast so I wasn't totally neglectful. I managed to shift to the sofa for a bit so the cleaner could do stuff in the bedroom and then I was down for the rest of the day. That night I tried to order some soup from Yemeksepeti but the restaurant cancelled the order, which I didn't notice for like an hour because they sent me a message but I'd fallen asleep again. So we ate some crap Knorr powdered soup that I think we've had since we lived in Beylikdüzü.

Well played, soup place.

It occurred to me that being super sick was revealing some sizable chinks in this whole plan of raising a kid by myself in a foreign country. I spent the night envisioning health and accident-related horror stories that I would be unable to fix. Like, for example, if LE or I were spouting blood, how would I wrap and keep pressure on it and call the ambulance at the same time? And I don't even know the number for the ambulance, or if people even call that number. I don't know my blood type or LE's blood type, though I guess they're written down somewhere. And what if I turned into a zombie? Does LE know he needs to destroy my brain before running to the neighbors'? What if I were laid up for two weeks, how could I take care of him? Stuff like that.

Maybe I've been watching Walking Dead a lot. But these are nonetheless legitimate concerns. We subsisted primarily on mandarin oranges and the gingerbread cookies LE had never gotten to take to school because I couldn't get him there. Not that he minded. He got to go play in the snow for awhile even though there weren't any other kids. He came home when he got cold. He said, "Look, my little hands are red."

At least we had cookies.
When I pick LE up from school in the afternoon, there's always a flicker of terror on his face the moment before he spots me. It's things like this that are the darkside of love, when I can't get it out of my head how his face will turn if I'm late getting there, or unable to come at all.

He doesn't use running as his primary mode of travel around the house anymore. And while we get along about most things, it's still a world of no for him. Little boys have appalling timing, like wanting to go swimming at 7.30 on a school night in November. They also have really awful ideas, like using their fingers to paint their spilled milk all over the table.

Still, I need to be better. While I was sick, I realized I'm a miserable fucking person. Completely insufferable. These are the sorts of things you realize when you're sick. I'm always telling LE no. I get snappish with him for no reason. Then he gets pissed off and sad and noisy drama ensues. I'm like the love of his life, which means he's always watching me to see whether I'm going to be cool or not. It's really easy to forget he's a person, the same way I forget students and strangers are people. It's really easy to abuse my authority. It's no wonder I have such crappy relationships if I can't live in relative peace with someone who loves me most of all.

LE's dad came and got him. Right after, LE got sick. MIL bawled me out for smoking and going on the balcony and for going around with wet hair so I took the phone off my ear and rolled my eyes for like 30 seconds. When I put it back, she was finishing up with a final bawl out for smoking on the balcony with wet hair.

I am such a strumpet.

I got BE to drop me at the doctor. Azeri Teyze leaned out her window to wish me geçmiş olsun and ask how I got sick. This is another one of those Turkish questions I understand but don't know the answer for. I'm pretty sure the answer isn't, "Because a germ got into one of my mucous membranes and maybe I was stressed or tired, or maybe it was such an especially virulent germ that it conquered my immune system and started festering."

I was lucky. That doctor who still calls me sometimes wasn't there. This new guy too, he tried to give me injectable antibiotics. What's with that? How is that ever convenient for a sick person to sort out? I talked him out of it and walked home wishing I would just die already it sucked so much being sick.

And now I'm pretty much better. Yesterday, my main accomplishment was shifting the big bottle of water
from the entryway to the kitchen and that pretty well did me in. Today, I successfully maintained my body temperature all by myself and wore real clothes and I'm still doing all right. Somewhere in there I made some really good soup.

Sometimes getting sick is like shedding a skin. I'm hoping it snows again. I'm glad I'm not turning into a bitter, dessicated, depressive old mule because I was pretty sure that's what was happening. I don't have black stinking zombie insides, which I was pretty sure I was growing. Or maybe both of those things are happening but I'm enjoying maintaining my own body temperature too much to notice it.

LE was really upset I was sick. He told everyone. He hardly bitched about being bored and sorted out his own needs, even brushing his teeth and changing his clothes without being told. He checked my throat and my temperature and told me he didn't want me to be sick. He cuddled even though I was stinky. He told me I was stinky. And he was pleased as punch to be sick with his babaanne (who's way better at the sort of insane fussing he enjoys so much when he's sick), triumphantly reporting to me that he'd instructed her as to which types of medicines she has to ask my permission before giving him.

I felt really bad I wasn't taking care of him and for all the times I was ever grouchy.

What would be the collective noun for little boys? A wriggle? A scamper? A jetpack?

A sparkle maybe.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Russell Benedict

Last weekend, I was over at a friend's house having a work day. Which really means it was part work, part him showing me how to use his Mac every five minutes, and a lot of doing other stuff, like origami. Eventually we got peckish and before we started prepping stuff for dinner, he pulled out some stinky cheese his friend had brought him from France.

The cheese was extremely stinky. Seriously stinky. Like puke and goats. And I knew, because it was so stinky, that it would also be extremely delicious, which it was.

But I wondered how people ever got themselves to eat something so stinky in order to discover how delicious it was.

I used to have this friend named Russell. When I started thinking about him the other day, and this story I was going to have to tell, I couldn't remember his last name. I could remember the name of his daughter, Tavina, who I only met in person once, briefly. But I couldn't remember Russell's last name.

Russell was also stinky, but for sure that was a quality of his worth getting around. I once arranged to meet him at the wine shop where my boyfriend and brother were working, and he promised me a surprise. When he got there, he opened a paper bag which contained a small piece of Brie wrapped in oily cellophane. "Why do Americans throw stuff like this out?" he wondered loudly, because he was a bit deaf. "It's a perfectly good piece of ripened Brie. Americans just don't know a good ripened cheese." I'd always thought Brie was a fresh cheese, one not meant to be ripened though I could see the benefits of letting it ripen a bit. Russell had lived in France for a spell and I figured he knew something about cheese that I didn't. I was about 22.

This cheese that Russell had was ripened more than a bit. He'd gotten it from the trash at Oasis, the local-ish natural market that later became a Whole Foods. The sort of place that has excellent cheese. And Russell's cheese wasn't actually from the trash. He had an agreement going with the guy who took out the trash that he could collect any good stuff before it went in the bins. Russell couldn't stand to see anything go to waste.

The cheese smelled awful. Beyond normal cheese-stink awful. Definitely getting into ringing off instinct alarm bells that say, "Do not eat that cheese" territory.

But it was Russell, so I tasted the cheese. And it was foul. Rotten-tasting. There was no taste in that cheese I could have defined as good. Russell spread a large hunk of it on one of the crackers I'd hooked up from my boyfriend, and encouraged me to dig in. It was so bad I couldn't eat anymore, even to be polite. People nearby were wrinkling their noses and looking our way. I asked Russell if he was sure he should be eating that cheese. There were parts of it that were kind of orange-colored, and parts of it that were runny.

The trash he'd collected at Oasis was the stuff they didn't even give the food bank, which I knew because I worked at the food bank. That's where I knew Russell from. He had let us know he was making this arrangement with several grocery stores we also worked with to get the perfectly good food we were leaving behind. It's also why he smelled a little bad. He stored a lot of the food in his apartment and in his car, a long black boat of a thing like they don't make anymore.

Russell had no sense of smell. It was related to the same incident that had left him with a crumpled hand and a blind eye and a slight limp. He was just around 80 when I met him. He liked strong flavors and interesting textures because his sense of taste was also affected. Red wine and dark beer and fried ice cream and ripened cheese. He could probably find the good taste in that cheese he brought to the wine shop.

When I was a newish hire at the food bank, he was coming up the walk and one the directors was all, "Oh, no. It's Russell Benedict. Anyone have an hour to spare?" He came into the office and started haranguing everyone within earshot about how we were going about it all wrong, this whole food rescue thing, and there were pounds and pounds of food we were letting go to waste.

I'd been hired for a food rescue thing (gleaning, which is collecting post-harvest produce from the fields), so the director pawned Russell off on me. He went on a bit about his thing, which was really a lot of things all together. One thing was about all the food we were wasting. Another was about how and where he was distributing the food he was collecting, and how the food bank wouldn't help him. Another was about how they were always trying to kick him out of flat because of the smell. Russell (who couldn't smell) figured any odors from his flat were perfectly justified because he had nowhere else to store the pounds and pounds of food he collected from markets around town, food that was just going to go to waste. He gave the food out to his neighbors, who were also poor and old. He has romances going on with some of the ladies. He lived in a senior citizen Section 8 house, and he tried to assuage the manager's complaints by getting rid of the spider in his kitchen. A spider he rather liked lived over the sink, and Russell left bits of rotting fruit under its web to attract fruit flies, which the spider could then eat.

Russell was really interested in the gleaning idea. He wanted to hear all about it. He had lots of ideas about to make it better. Lots of ideas. While he was talking about these, Ron the warehouse manager started to come into the room but he saw Russell and tried to get away. It was too late. Russell had seen him and he bid his farewells and went out to harangue Ron about how he could be doing his job better.

When I say food bank, I don't mean like a soup kitchen or a place where poor people came to get food. We were a collection point, one of the storage hubs for the state. We had a warehouse and an office. We did all the organizing of various food rescue and food collection programs, dealt with donors and donations, and managed the distribution of all this food, plus government subsidies, to various smaller distribution points locally and around the state. It was from those smaller places that people who needed food actually went to get it.


I got to like Russell, even though he could be querulous and his visits were often poorly timed, where I would be really busy with something else and not be able to give him the time he needed, because he was really interesting, as it turned out.

His fire about the food going to waste come from his 25 years of running a similar operation to ours in Washington D.C. It was called Waste Not Want Not, and they handled thousands more pounds of rescued food a day than we did. What he really wanted to do was use his years of experience and work alongside the food bank and rescue all the food we were missing from markets and restaurants. Problem was, his system of collecting food was very complicated and detailed. That, and the food he got wasn't always great. It was usually so close to going bad, and could not be legally distributed to poor people from licensed agencies.

Russell had done other stuff besides the food bank. He did some work in Alaska with the Forest Service, but I'm not sure what. I just knew that because it was in the Forest Service station in Alaska in the winter that he'd delivered his daughter Tavina. He had a few other daughters, but Tavina was the one he talked about. Her mother was his first and third wife, which was because he'd remarried her after divorcing his second wife.

He'd also worked for the State Department. One thing he worked on was the Peace Corps, at its inception. He'd harangued the government into accepting Peace Corps applicants with criminal records because it was the 60s and the kinds of people applying for the Peace Corps-- the kinds of people the Peace Corps wanted-- all had criminal records of some sort, either for minor drug infractions or protesting.

And he grew up with Richard Yates. Richard Yates is like a Mad Men era writer. I'd never heard of him but Russell told me a lot about Richard Yates' life and how it affected his writing.  His book Revutionary Road was made into a movie awhile back and it had a lot of the same angst as Mad Men. It's a good book. I never saw the movie. Russell gave me a book of short stories by Richard Yates, and told me he was a writer's writer. He knew I liked to write and he'd read some of my stories. He'd given some good feedback too, and it wasn't kindly Grandpa feedback. Mostly it was a little about my story and a lot about Richard Yates but it was still nice. He gave me the book and a few other little things in a basket he'd refurbished and re-varnished after an epoxy accident, because there was no reason the basket should go to waste.

Russell and Richard Yates fought in WWII at the same time, and Russell still hadn't forgiven him for drinking himself to death. He also never forgave his first and third wife for dying of lung cancer, and was forever on at me about smoking, which he'd given up after watching his wife die of it. He was really into health and took 2,000 mg. of vitamin C a day because of Linus Pauling's research. He ran in marathons.

The last time I saw Russell was around the time I moved here. We were to meet at a brew pub because they had a kind of dark beer with a nice consistency that he was able to taste. I got there before him and ordered a pitcher and two glasses. The waiter wouldn't give me the other glass until he'd seen the ID of the person who would be drinking from it because Oregon had ridiculous drinking laws. I told the waiter my friend was 78. When Russell arrived grumbling about car trouble, the waiter really did ask to see his ID. Russell was mad because of the car and because it took him awhile to locate his ID in his wallet full of shredded papers and small things he'd saved and because, really. Asking a 78-year-old man to prove he's over 21. The ridiculous drinking laws were strictly enforced, and waitstaff were terrified of undercover liquor commission agents catching them at not checking ID because they and restaurant could get fined.

Over beer and burgers, we talked about stuff. He told me about the incident that had so damaged his body. A few years earlier, he'd been working late and alone at his food warehouse in Washington D.C. A group of thugs came in to rob the place. Russell told them they could take whatever they wanted and told them where the small amount of money was. Nonetheless, they beat him nearly to death with an iron bar and left him there. The beating had destroyed his nose and eye and hand and legs. It scrambled his brain a bit. He almost died and after the beating, had moved across the country to live near his daughter Tavina because he couldn't take care of himself anymore. Tavina was a social activist of some sort, well known around town for her advocacy work of various people needing social justice of some sort. She didn't have a lot of time to deal with Russell, who was forever getting into tangles and didn't much like being told what to do. Tavina died in a hiking accident a few years after I moved here.

We talked about Turkey. He told me how he loved it that people from Turkey say 'Stambul instead of Istanbul, which is pretty much true. The initial "i" is little more than a whisper. We finished up and split the bill, and I went out to help him get the car started. Starting the car required a complex series of actions in a certain order and a coat hanger and took a good half hour.

We said goodbye. Russell was anxious to get going before the car died again. It couldn't go faster than about 10 mph.

A few years ago, I got to wondering what became of Russell so I started Googling him. I couldn't find anything because, as much as tried to bring computers into his life, he didn't have much success with it and was wary of the things. He never had much of an Internet presence. So I started searching his daughter Tavina, and I turned up Russell's short obituary. He'd almost made it to 90. The obituary wasn't the standard fill-in-the-form type, but it was written by someone who didn't know him very well. Tavina's name was in the obituary more than Russell's.

I once heard a short story on NPR about the afterlife. In this view of the afterlife, it's like a giant lounge, and everyone who ever died is there. You can hang out with Plato and Syd Barrett and drink and smoke all you like because you're already dead. But the thing is that sometimes you'll be talking to someone, and he'll just disappear. That's because you only stay in the lounge as long as someone alive still remembers your name. As soon as the last person who remembers your name dies, you disappear and no one in the lounge knows what happens to you after that, though they have some theories.

So for the last few days I couldn't remember Russell's last name. And I was thinking about how, after such a life, you become dependent on your grown child because of a random act of psychopathy. Your obituary is buried on page 5 of Google, and even then can only be searched by someone else's name. Almost everyone who remembers your name is also dead.

But to have lived such a life.

I was kind of upset the last few days because I couldn't remember Russell's last name. Then tonight I was having a cigarette and fretting about the story I was supposed to tell and I remembered it.

It's Benedict. Russell Benedict.

And it's a really comforting lie for me to hope that he'll still be in the afterlife lounge when I get there, because I'd really love to talk to him once more.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Day of School

The enemy of society is ignorance, and teachers are the enemy of ignorance.
As soon as I got pregnant, one of the first things I started worrying about was LE having to go to school here. Overcrowded classrooms. Decrepit facilities. An exams-based system, all based on memorization, with an authoritarian control of knowledge. Lockstep indoctrination and militaristic shouting of nationalistic slogans.

But what are you gonna do? The kid has to start school sometime. We managed to put it off for a year. Still, like all those days you don't really want, like your dentist appointment or the last day of summer vacation, this day finally came.

Last week, they had a kind of orientation for the first graders before the bigger kids start school. BE and his parents took him to the first day of orientation because there really was no way I could escape work, but I made sure I took him to the *real* first day of school. I had taken him to some orientation days, too. His teacher has gotten the BE family stamp of approval. She's a good Republican, which sounds like an appalling thing for me to say in English, but it's how you translate Cumhuriyetçi. My teacher friends always ask her age (50-ish), and that gets the stamp of approval too, because she was of the generation that got a proper education. I guess the younger ones are just rushed through.

For my part, I liked it that she seems strict, but nice when she needs to be. Anyway, LE will be with her through 4th grade (or more, or less, if they change the education system again), so I hope she's cool for real.

The orientation days were crowded and pushy and noisy and someone said something about a meeting downstairs for the first grade parents, but there was no such meeting, which I know because I looked all over for it. The parents all gathered outside the door of the classroom and made a lot of noise in the hallway, occasionally bursting into the classroom to fuss over their little bunnies because they couldn't stand leaving them alone for another second. There was nothing to do for the whole two hours but stand there, so sometimes I stood outside in the yard and sometimes I stood inside in the corridor. Everyone stared at me at lot and I smiled at everyone a lot.

Here's one thing about first grade so far-- the part that's all about me, I mean. Not only am I much taller than all the other parents, I seem to be the only foreign parent in the whole school of about 100,000 kids. I'm also one of the tiny minority of moms not wearing a headscarf. I expected this. And it's natural for the other parents to wonder what on earth I'm doing there.

Don't fuck with Teyze.
In LE's class (mercifully small, by the way-- about 30 little ones), one grownup is Bossy Teyze. She's really nice, and likes to boss everyone around, like telling parents where to stand and making sure the kids line up nice and straight and telling them where to put their backpacks. She was one of the ones who couldn't refrain from entering the classroom several times. I've been unable to ascertain which kid she's attached to. It's possible she's like one of those teyzes that goes to weddings just for fun.

There's also a mom who came in with a tiny guy who went and sat by himself. She got LE to introduce himself to the little fellow, and convinced them to sit next to each other, and then she talked to me. This, of course, made me like her instantly. Most of the moms are the kind of people who wouldn't strike up a conversation with me for fear I won't understand, thus causing everyone to be uncomfortable. And I'm for sure not the sort of person who goes around striking up conversations with strangers unless I absolutely have to.

LE has most of his uniform. The shirts aren't in the shop yet, and the lady who runs the shop seems most relieved I don't really care about the continued absence of the shirts. He also got a rolly backpack and a bunch of school supplies including Play-Doh, which made first grade way less intimidating for him because he thought he would be expected to know how to recite the national anthem and read. Uniforms aren't required by law anymore, but apparently the parents in the school voted for them with an overwhelming majority. I was surprised to find myself okay with this, mostly because I was worried LE would stand out as a rich kid or something. Also it makes the whole discussion about why we can't wear our Spiderman suit to school a lot easier. Sometimes The Man has to win my arguments with a 6 year old for me, and I'm okay with that too.

LE manfully strutting off to school, pulling his rolly backpack behind him and swinging his free arm, is a sight to behold. It kills me with the cute. He wouldn't hold my hand all the way there, 10 minutes before the appointed time, and the schoolyard was insane. I swear they're giving those kids a hefty dose of meth with their snacks. They run in circles and scream and kick empty water bottles around. Two middle school boys were beating the shit out of each other as we went in, one holding the other in a headlock punching his face while the other went for the kidneys and the security guard was off chasing some other kids who'd escaped early. LE took my hand.

Of course everything started late and there was nothing to do but crowd into the shade with the other moms and small kids, many of them bawling, while we waited for someone to tell us what to do. LE's classroom was still full of middle school kids. We waited for almost 45 minutes, till LE was bored and had eaten half of his afternoon snack.

So fucking boring...
With the middle school kids on their way out and the elementary school kids on their way in, the yard was packed. Everyone was pushing everyone. It was as if all those years of pushing on the metrobus were actually training for the first day of first grade.

Lucky for us, LE was undaunted. I was plenty daunted and doing my best to keep it to myself. The last time I started first grade was 35 years ago in a smallish town, so my normal on this topic is clearly not his normal. He's way cooler with chaos than I am.

Some guy started yelling into a PA system for people to get out of the doorway so the middle school kids could go out. Then he started with some opening remarks that would have made no sense to kids and the parents weren't listening. Then another guy, apparently unaware the first guy was using the PA system, started yelling something so there were two guys yelling stuff into the PA system at once and the running and screaming and crying continued unabated.

School is fucking awesome.
I've always heard that it was exactly this sort of thing that has trained students not to listen when someone is hollering at them. I don't blame them because I couldn't have heard any of it even if I'd tried.

A gypsy mom with two little boys was hanging off to the side of the cluster of parents blocking the doorway. The two boys were torn between being scared and wanting to run around and scream. I've seen the mom and boys out begging and selling tissues on the weekends. I'm not even sure if she was their mom. She looked young and careworn. The boys were a bit grubby but were wearing their cleanest best clothes, freshly pressed.

One of the PA guys yelled for the kids to start lining up by class. Bossy Teyze knew just what to do and where everyone needed to be, so she started herding people. I got LE into line next to his friend from the other day. Actually, he was next to another kid he didn't know, but his friend's mom pulled LE over to her boy, saying he wanted to be next to LE. A couple kids were crying and kept trying to escape the line. Their moms were near tears themselves, and some of the dads, and also the assorted older siblings and babies.

It's like the lamest music festival ever.
I really felt for them. It's the worst thing in the world, sending your kid off for the first time. Most of these kids probably didn't go to the assortment of preschools LE has. I never got used to him crying and reaching for me, wide-mouth and red-faced, while someone whisked him off to play and I felt like the most evil, heartless mother in the world and that if LE turns out to be Jeffrey Dahmer when he grows up it will be because I made him go to school those times when he really, really didn't want to go. But today he seemed especially keen that I not fuss over him so I didn't. He just wanted me to be where he could see me and that was okay. Also easy because I was taller than everyone there and he's taller than most of his classmates.

The gypsy mom chose a line that looked good and shoved the boys into it, then backed away with her arms crossed over her chest and looked away, at no one in particular. The boys conferred and found a line that looked better to them and got into that one. The teacher in that line noticed the boys and rubbed their heads and put her arms around them and got their names. Then she went to the mom to find out where they were supposed to be, but the mom didn't seem to know and the teacher patted the boys again and decided to deal with it later. The boys tried to look cool but stayed close to each other, so their arms were touching.

Then some kids started screeching a call and response chant into the PA system, and all the older kids knew what to shout back. I couldn't really understand it, but it was probably one of those lockstep nationalistic slogany things I was worried about. LE gave me a bewildered look and I shrugged back at him. Some of the moms were moving their lips along to the chant and Bossy Teyze was trying to get the little ones to join in.

With that, it was time to march into class, so they did, smallest kids first. LE tried to pretend he wasn't waving back at me.

At the end of the day, after the meth had been administered to the younger kids, LE came out and ran up to me for a cuddle and then acted like he hadn't. I asked him if he wanted to run around and scream for awhile and he did. I looked away for a second and lost him in the crowd.

My kid is the one in the white shirt.
Lucky for me, he has a Spider Sense about where I am. After running in circles and screaming for a minute, he came back to me and said he wanted to go home.

And with that, the first day of school drew to a close.

I'm sure he'll be fine. Really.

No, really.

Friday, August 30, 2013

First Love

LE's cousin C, the one who he's going to be circumcised with any day now, apparently has a girlfriend.

I'll just pretend that last sentence was perfectly normal because, um, it is. In my head, I'm just glad LE has a little circumcision buddy.

I don't know yet if I'm expected or even invited to attend the festivities following the Big Snip. I told BE if they didn't want to invite me, that's cool. I know this divorce is a huge embarrassment for certain parties (BE and MIL), to the extent that a lot of people in the families maybe haven't even Been Told. And to be honest, I'd really rather have nothing to do with any of this thing other than cuddles and hand-holding.

LE is growing like crazy and he's cappuccino brown from the sun and as wriggly as ever because that's what little boys are like. When he succumbs to holding my hand in the street, he has this incredible property of being six places at once yet somehow next to me the whole time.

I say "succumbs to holding my hand" because the boy has become this social animal all of a sudden. He's
terribly worried about what his friends will think of him in that supremely self-absorbed way only a child is capable of, like believing his friends care if he holds my hand, or thinking they'll find out about his elaborate bedtime business, with the kissing and cuddles and the "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite, and have sweet dreams or no dreams and I love you very very very very very very very very much," while still not having the slightest embarrassment about wearing his Spiderman costume out to play football or explaining the nature of his poo in elaborate detail.

When I was 7 or 8, I watched this program about a Vegas hypnotist. After that, I became convinced that my life wasn't real because a guest-speaker hypnotist had hypnotized me in front of my second grade class and I
It was laden with double entendre.
was acting out my life in front of them while they laughed at me, like the people in the TV show. Every pee, every angst, every peek to make sure my boobs weren't getting too big was just a show to amuse my snarky classmates, and their teasing when I woke up would be relentless. Around 12 or so, I became certain some boys in my class had a camera trained on our bathroom window (which didn't have shades because it overlooked an empty field), and they were recording all my bathroom stuff, periods and all, to share with everyone and laugh about it. So I totally get that whole childhood self-absorption thing.

I'm still not 100% convinced I won't wake up one day in second grade, with everyone laughing just in time for recess. I wonder if I'll suddenly be a grown-up and totally able, psychologically and linguistically, to deal with their bullshit, or if my idea of being a grown-up is warped by having lived a fake life in my mind at age 7 or 8.

C is in love. He's 8. LE has developed certain behaviors lately, like a wide-eyed reverence when talking
about God and a shy smile when talking about boy-girl love. The God thing comes from a neighbor kid at MIL's who goes to Koran school, and the love thing is probably a combination of influences from cartoons and real life. The other night I told BE he'd better hurry up and explain their religion to LE, since right now all the information he's getting is coming from a Sunni and an atheist.

I'm sure it's very meaningful.
When LE was born, I refused to have him circumcised. I figured getting born was enough trouble for a baby for one day. When they wanted to do it at 3 months, I talked them out of it, pointing out that it was summer and a cut-up penis in a dirty diaper in summer maybe wasn't such a good idea. MIL was right on board with that one because mikrop! Which she simply adores talking about. Mostly I was hoping they'd forget the whole thing, but I told BE if they were going to insist on cutting the boy, they should at least wait till he was old enough to explain the significance of it to him, about religion and being a man and whatever else it's supposed to mean.

No one has explained it yet. All I can do is promise him that when they tell him they're going to cut off his penis and eat it with the pilav (a hilarious joke for Turkish people, don't tell Freud), they're not really
I'll turn up if these guys do.
going to do that. Once in the bath I even pulled his foreskin to show him just the little bit they're going to cut. I promised him it won't hurt when they're doing it (I didn't dwell too much on the needle they'll probably use for the local anesthetic), but it'll hurt after and people will give him candy and presents and gold. LE wants a sultan suit like the boys in the pictures at the photography shops. I hope I can at least hook up a scepter for him, since his family would never do the sultan suit thing.

"C has a girlfriend?" I asked. "What on earth do they do?" LE wasn't sure, or he was too shy to say. "Do they kiss? Do they hold hands? Do they text message? Does C even have a phone?" He does. He's pretty spoiled. I asked if C really has a girlfriend or if there was just a girl the grownups were teasing him about. LE didn't seem sure about that either.

I'm not sure what to do about social pressures on my kid. On one hand, I don't want him to be that kid who
sulks or cries when he doesn't get his way (which he totally does, and for which the kids on the street ignore him till he cuts it out, yay them, but I hear these things coming out of my mouth like "No one wants to be friends with a guy who makes a fuss for no reason,"), but also I don't want to tell him he has to do certain stuff to fit in. And given that, I know the kinds of advice parents give you ("Just be yourself!") doesn't really take till you're like 30 because being yourself and poking dead animals with sticks and playing with caterpillars or giggling about jokes you've always made and not wearing makeup absolutely does not win you the admiration of the Cool Kids. When your parents tell you the Cool Kids won't be cool at all at some fuzzy point in the future, you don't know they were right till you snoop the Cool Kids' Facebook pages and are all, "Holy shit, you dumbass, knocked up at 20 and neither you nor that hot guy you married right out of high school aged well at all, hee!"

So I found myself telling LE about my first love. 3rd grade. Scott Shepherd. He sat next to me in class. I don't quite know how it came about that we were in love, but one day at lunch everyone was pressuring Scott to ask me to go with him. And he did, mutteringly, and I accepted, and maybe we shook hands or something. After that we were going together, perhaps for a couple of weeks. We barely spoke the whole time, though there was probably at least one lunch-sharing event while everyone snickered around us and pressured us to kiss or something. There was copious mooning about the whole thing, on my part at least, because maybe I was showing a precocious talent for creating fabulous love affairs out of nothing. Then one day, right after lunch and just before the filmstrip, Scott held up a piece of paper that said, "Our love is over between you and me."

I was devastated. The thing about having an ability to create fabulous love affairs out of nothing is also the ability to be devastated when the love affair ends into nothing. I didn't even enjoy that afternoon's Brownies trip to Chuck-E-Cheese, and that was before I realized Chuck-E-Cheese sucks and their pizza sucks and those mechanical animals they don't even have anymore also suck.

I sung this song to myself a lot, because what is a devastated love without songs?

I often think it's a good thing they didn't have Marilyn Manson when I was a kid, because things like "I kill myself to make everybody pay" might have been taken altogether too literally. That thing I did when I was 12 with all the Tylenol doesn't count, but it could have with the right music. I didn't even know about Depeche Mode or Sisters of Mercy when I did that thing with all the Tylenol. When I puked the charcoal the emergency room doctors had given me all over the carpet next to the toilet, I was sure the boys from my class were filming it and laughing.

I didn't tell LE about that last part. But when I told him about my star-struck relationship with Scott Shepard, he seemed relieved that there was no kissing or holding hands.

I hope he understood the part where falling fabulously in love all the time is great, even when it sucks.

Right now he's asleep in this fort he's built in the living room. 

And I'm given to understand the Americans have decided bombing the shit out of Syria is a good idea. LE's armed to the teeth in his fort. He also laid in some plastic food supplies, and a blanket in case he gets cold.

I hope he falls fabulously in love, over and over, and gets sulky and devastated when it doesn't work out. I hope circumcision is the worst thing that ever happens to his body, ever. I hope he never outgrows the Spiderman costume, in whatever iteration. I hope he gets that tattoo of the flying CD he came up with today. I hope he can have an allowance.

I hope he has the luxury of being himself one day.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Cemetery

Gravestones in Eyüp, below Pierre Loti
Damn you, metrobus!
The other day I had to make the trip across town to fetch LE from the in-laws. I haven't had to do this in awhile, though I'm not sure why. Maybe BE just likes the drive because it's sure as hell not to do me a favor. It could be because LE *hates* the metrobus so much when he gets even a whiff of a hint he might have to ride on it, he flails himself into a full-tear explosion in about two seconds. I don't blame him. When the metrobus is crowded, his face is about the same level as most people's asses and when a sitting stranger offers to hold him, I'm all "Here you go," despite his objections because it gives me an LE-sized space of breathing room and also we can score the stranger's seat later on maybe, if the stranger gets off before us.

The metrobus kind of goes through the old part of town, where there are lots of cemeteries. I was standing in some prime metrobus real estate, my back to a bar and my head pressed to window idly remarking to myself about the coolnesses and annoyances passing by. A Byzantine wall (cool!). Another fucking crane building an ugly piece of shit building (annoying!). People picnicking on the medians (cool!). The whole Bayram's worth of trash littering the median (annoying!).

And it occurred to me that people picnic on the medians because there's fuck-all else to go, for poor people at least. A lot of places where they used to picnic, like the Yeşilköy seaside and various other parks, have banned picnicking accessories like grills and little gas stoves, while other parks, like the one in Bahçeşehir, invented a fake "show your ID that you live around here" system, wherein people like me aren't asked for ID while others can be blocked based on class assumptions. It's probably because the picnickers do have a tendency to leave their trash lying around. It doesn't justify the banning in my mind-- it just makes things shittier for poor people. Why not have a few guys wandering around politely reminding people to pick up before they leave?

Given recent events, I've gotten all sensitive to trees. Between Zincirlikuyu and the airport, the only places with trees are cemeteries. Probably most of the so-called green areas left in Istanbul are cemeteries. I'd like to think this means these places are forever protected, but the road running through the middle of the old cemetery in Sarıyer says differently. It's a useful little road, but still.

BE's parents still hadn't made their Bayram cemetery visit. So as soon as LE back-arch bawled about the metrobus, they offered to take us with them and drop us off closer to home. Both of us went "Yay!" because we love going to the cemetery.

I've written about this cemetery before, but it was a long time ago. It's the one where Menderes and Özal are buried, only now when anyone says Özal, they mutter "zehirlendi." On this trip, MIL was insisting LE had never been to the cemetery before and I was pretty sure he had, though he was pretty little. Ha! The Internet says I'm right. We balanced along the edges of the graves to where BE's grandparents are buried. MIL talked about how much more crowded the cemetery has gotten over the years, how there used to be paths to the grave they wanted. LE kept stopping me to read the inscriptions for him. He wondered where all the zombies were.

At the grave, FIL gave LE the half-full bottle of water he'd brought to pour into the little cups at the head end. "It's for the birds," he said. Then he and MIL had a short kerfuffle over whether or not the grave needed cleaning off. Then they said their prayer, hands close to the chest and open to the sky the way Muslims do, ending with a washing motion over their faces. I tried to keep LE quiet, something he's not wont to be. I showed him the grave BE had shown me the last time we were there, where the bones were coming up. Later on, LE said the bones were the only thing about the cemetery he'd found interesting.

On the way out, MIL showed me the three brothers' graves I wrote about in 2010, a few months before the divorce, where one gravestone describes a brother's military honors, another has the man's academic and professional honors, and the third says, "Best Husband and Father in the World." The third is MIL's favorite too. LE asked her what the others said and she carefully sounded her way through them because she doesn't read all that great. She's lucky enough that her father sent her to school through about 4th grade, in a time when no one even bothered to record the date and year of her birth.

My favorite way of flummoxing her these days is by doing and saying stuff to let her know I think she matters. It seems to be working out all right.

For the last few nights, the honking and guns going off on the main road says it's conscription time, when the guys go to be soldiers for awhile.

Given all that's going around here these days, I wonder if there is going to be enough room to bury all the dead?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Gezi Park

So I know I wrote in my last post how I feel guilty every time I do some public Internetty thing that's not related to the Gezi protests.

Except sometimes things happen that aren't related to the Gezi protests. It's true! Actually, fairly often things like this happen because I, like everyone else in the world, just sort of get on with things just in case the world doesn't actually come to an end.

Everything here remains completely fucked up, though. Rest assured. It's not gone away and it's not calmed down and nothing is okay really. I've got my fingers permanently crossed waiting for the next thing.

Metaphorically crossed. If they were crossed for real, I wouldn't be able to get on with things.

Last night, we went to a going away party for a friend/co-worker who's managed to find something to do with her life besides The Job. She's not actually leaving the country like most of my friends here do eventually. She's just found something way cooler to do, which is telling stories. That's right. You can totally have a job telling stories. Not writing, mind you. Telling stories for real, from her mouth and with her body. It suits her perfectly and she's good at it and she can make a viable income from it.

So went to Bomonti in Nişantaşı to her house. LE had gas or something and started getting upset about his tummy and then he started weeping-- not crying but weeping, which is way sadder so I carried him for awhile up a hill and ran across a few streets through traffic and now my back is all fucked up. But that's not the story.

My friend's house is near a bunch of fabric sellers. I'm not sure if it's an everyday thing or a weekly thing, but the fabric sellers had apparently exploded onto the street, into neat piles of scraps of fabric.

I love a good ground score. Over the years I've trained myself to quit picking stuff up off the ground and keeping it. It was getting out of hand. Now I limit myself to keys and small things that I don't know what they are. But the fabric was too much. I put the no-longer-weeping kid down and scored like 100 4 x 4 swatches of different types of plaid. Checked fabric, if you're British. I have no idea what to do with it all, but there are a million things that could be done with it for sure, especially if I could sew, which I can't really except for utilitarian repairs.

My friend was ready for LE with kid's books and art supplies and juice. He had a rest and then he was fine, especially since her partner brought him a tray of snacks and a bowl of pekmez to the bed where he was hanging out keeping a low profile because the room full of grownups was too much for him. It was lovely. He was happy because of the pekmez and the cat that didn't bite and also because everywhere he goes, there are people who love him.

The past two weekends, BE and I have been all civil and shit. We have united in our mutual hatred of AKP. We have conversations in which he uses words and sentences and no one argues. He even joined a friend and I for Sunday brunch this past weekend. I always invite him to stuff like this, but he never joins and I was completely shocked he decided to join this time. My friend is the first person in my life in I-don't-know-how- long who saw BE's good side. Usually people are all, "I can't see you married to that guy-- he's such a dick," because BE is usually such a dick to my friends. But this weekend he wasn't. He showed his good side that I'd kind of forgotten he has and we had one of those 2 hour breakfasts and it was delightful.

Later that day when I emptied out LE's school bag, there was this inside:

It says, "He went to a restaurant with him mom and dad and he was very happy they were all together."
He drew this before we had all had brunch together. I can't remember the last time before this we've all had a meal in a restaurant together but it's been at least a year. I couldn't decide if I should be sad LE wants us all to be together or if I should be glad we may be managing something like that, sometimes at least.

And it's pictures that bring me to the story. On the Metro home from Nişantaşı, there was a guy sketching people. Everyone was peeking at him trying to see what he was sketching. He was assiduously ignoring them. We sat across from him and he was clearly sketching in our direction but my friend and I were just doing everything we could to keep LE amused because he was up Way Past His Bedtime partying with the grownups and due to crumble any second.

The guy got off the Metro before us and as he passed by he let a paper drop at our feet. It was this:
I love that he wrote "Hi."
Everyone around us craned to see. LE wondered aloud why he was holding his penis in the picture. Some Americans nearby exploded laughing and I told LE it's because he's always holding his penis even though I'm pretty sure that's not what he'd doing in the picture.

We argued for a bit over who got to keep the picture and I won and it's in my office now.

I'm sure there's some way to conect this all to Gezi and random acts of beauty, but why bother? If you wanted to do that, you already did.

I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm Fine, We're Fine, Everything Is Fine

Well, no. Not exactly.

It's just then whenever folks back home or folks not here get in touch asking if we're okay, this seems like
this is the best thing to start off with.

I expect a lot of people in my list of Facebook friends, the ones outside of Turkey I mean, have blocked me for being annoying with Turkey stuff. It's okay. I've blocked a lot of them for their boring, single-issue crap, too. Hurt animals with one nasty eye. Every goddamned injustice you can think of. Inspirational yoga quotes. Religious stuff.

If you think I've blocked you, it probably wasn't you. It was someone else.

I bring up Facebook because it's all I can manage as an information source. I still haven't gotten on Twitter. I've gotten used to the daily Facebook weirdness of Cop Violence! Taksim live feed link! Dead guy! I'm eating pancakes! Government lies! Insanely amazing people who still haven't given up and started punching despite the madness and fear! My kid is wearing a funny hat! Burning chemicals in the TOMA spray! Guy at Best Buy was stupid! Incisive political commentary!

This photo was guilt-free.
I used to post the shit out Facebook. I still do, but it's all Turkey stuff. I've started feeling guilty for posting non-Turkey stuff. Maybe once every couple of days I allow myself an empty share, like something hilarious George Takei punned, or something the Americans did that was bad, or something about Monsanto because I *hate* them. I've even gone off Grouchy Cat somewhat, which is not like me at all.

It's gotten to where if I don't start posting a bunch of Turkey crap within a certain time frame, my dad freaks out and thinks I've disappeared. It can be awkward when I'm out somewhere, and I'm suddenly all, "Oh, wait, sorry. It's after 9. I gotta start liking and sharing some stuff or my parents will get upset."

Here's the thing. LE and I are okay, but everything is not fine. More like everything is hovering precariously between everything is extraordinarily good and everything is extraordinarily bad. There are arguments both ways.

Today LE asked me why the soldiers don't just come and get rid of the police. So I tried to explain that, about the recent history of military coups and how that might affect us, but right in the middle he asked me why the kid who sticks his hands into people's armpits doesn't come to preschool anymore. The he asked me why the man and woman on the cigarette package are mad at each other, and I explained that it was because they couldn't have sex and how the government is trying to make you think cigarettes keep your dick from getting hard which isn't true at all as far as I know, and he said he didn't understand what I was talking about. This was all before 10am. Then this afternoon he wanted me to explain infinity so I did, but he got caught on the part where I was showing him how the kitchen is finite and he just wanted me to walk into the wall over and over.

So it was a heavy day for him.

These are extraordinary times. You try to guess what will happen next based on what you know about history, and about the nature of such things, based on what you know about Turkey but I'm pretty sure
An iftar meal that stretched over a mile down İstiklal.
nothing like this has ever happened in the world. Six weeks of cops brutalizing people and six weeks of people cheerfully coming back. Six weeks of the state trying to find excuses and ways to undermine what the people are doing and saying, and six weeks of the people being 1,000 miles ahead of the government's stupidity. At least it seems that way in terms of ideas. In terms of behavior, the government is all too happy to pull the crackdown card and the detainment card and the threat card and the farce trial card and the beating card. So maybe they're winning and I'm just reading the wrong stuff like I did during the last US election and it seemed all of America was a blue state.

I've stopped wondering when the guys were going to turn up with real guns because it seems the state is comfortable with just hurting people a lot and pretending it's all reasonable. Mostly I stopped feeling like I ought to learn how to pray or something, because I don't know how else you use your brain power to make people not do something awful.

Brain needs more superpowers.
It could be that something like this actually has happened in the world before now. Maybe it's just that nothing like this has ever happened to me. Not that it's happening to me exactly. Just near me. Around me.

Or maybe we're seeing how it's done, where people just keep being good. I don't know.

Also I don't know if such an event has ever been reported in such excruciatingly minute detail, where every day there's a new kind of man or woman that's memed so fast it's over-memed and tired by the third day. Woman in red. Woman in black. Naked Man. Talcid man. The laser cats show us the way? Hilarious, but so last month.

But the details can be too much. I try not to read all of them.

Ali İsmail Korkmaz
But I know the kind of music this kid listened to, and that he volunteered with old folks, and that the hospital sent him home with a brain injury. He got beaten by several guys while trying to escape the police.

Lobna Allamii

And that this woman, now almost a vegetable, seems like someone I would have liked and has a sister who leads her to the toilet. She took a gas canister to the head.

Abdullah Cömert
And that everyone argued about how this guy died-- beating or shooting or gas canister to the head? It all got confusing and it was in Hatay and he was the head of the CHP youth so it all got a bit
conspiracy-ridden and then sort of forgotten.

Ethem Sarısülük
And that this guy was Alevi and wanted to donate his organs but they
were rendered unusable after the autopsy. He was shot in the head by a scared cop.

Mehmet Ayvalıtaş

And that this kid was also Alevi and getting ready to do his military service. He got run over when a taxi rammed a group of protestors.

Mustafa Sarı
And this cop became a pawn of the state right away, who said protestors pushed him off a bridge but his family didn't believe that and even the other cops said he fell off the bridge.

Those are just the ones I read about-- the ones that died and the woman everyone thought was dead because of that awful picture with her lying on the ground with her eyes bulging out, stunned. The brain injuries seem countless and every time I leave Sarıyer, I see one or two people with eye injuries.

It's hard to say what's going on now, really. The secret war? They're sure taking a lot of people. But sometimes I think that this was always happening, just not out in the open and mostly on the other side of the country and everyone felt like they weren't supposed to talk about it. Or is it a fake secret war, just to scare people?

It's not like anything I've ever heard of, so it's impossible to know what's happening or what is going to happen.

But until then, I'm fine, we're fine, and everything is fine. Or not.

Hard to say.