Çoraplar (n: socks) Throwing in the proverbial sock.

First, I have a funny little story that I didn’t plan to add to this posting… Because I’m too lazy to change the keyboard settings when writing all of my I posts, I just google the Turkish word I’m looking for so that I can copy and paste the word with the proper characters. Sometimes I just use an online Turkish keyboard, but usually I’m lazy and just let google do my correcting. Today I was entertained to find that the top two google hits for ‘çoraplar’ are about sexy socks. I kid you not. Check it out here. (You can use google translate if you need to.)  That made my evening!

So on to the real posting.

What’s this about throwing in socks?  Doesn’t she know it’s a proverbial towel?

Yes.  I know.  But in my case it’s a sock.  As you may remember, I was planning to hand make all of this year’s Christmas gifts.  Mostly I meant knit something fun and functional for everyone on the short list and then scour Pinterest for other DIY ideas (which could kill days if I wanted it to).  I was planning to make socks for my parents because I know they’d appreciate and actually use those as opposed to other knit goods.

I have always had this weird superman vs. kryptonite relationship with socks (yes, I’m superman and socks are kryptonite in this analogy… just go with it).  I can knit scarves, sweaters, hats, gloves, and all sorts of random baby accessories but socks have always alluded me.  Something about the heel turn or maybe the gussets keeps me from trying time and again.  But I’m doing this whole 30 in 30 thing and facing all sorts of fears and short comings, right?  Socks shouldn’t be that difficult.

So while I was back in the States, I stopped at my favorite yarn store and picked up some sock yarn and an instructional how-to book.  I managed to cast on, rock out the toe section and gussets while we were on our flights back to Ankara.  And then — and I think this is where my big mistake was — I left the sock for a few days and goofed off getting everything back in order here at home.  When I went back to the sock to turn the heel, I lost all momentum and found the instructions completely unintelligible.  They might as well have had a fat little Swedish dude Pictionary style explaining it (yep, that was an open dig at Ikea).  I tried to do the heel turn three times before giving up and frogging the whole thing.  Then I tried it from the top down.  Same issue.

So I am now throwing in the proverbial sock.  I give up.  I’m not strong enough to fight the sock.  You win.  This round.  Dun dun dun.  (That was dramatic mood music where I’d raise only one eyebrow at a time… if I could.)  So for now I return to gifts I know I can knit for other people.  Perhaps we’ll revisit the sock issue in a few weeks…

 

Intelligent and Witty Lady: 0; Sock: 1

 

Amerikalıyım (I am American)

My goal when overseas has always been to blend.  I never wanted to stand out in a crowd and more than anything I never wanted to be an obvious American.  Partly because, well we Americans aren’t loved everywhere in the world, and mostly because Americans tend to have a reputation toward the obnoxious while traveling.  There are so many good arguments for blending in: less likely to be targeted for theft, more likely to be left alone, etc. which is why I was always so thankful that I can pass as Turkish.  Actually, thanks to my genetic make up I can pass as just about anything save far east Asian, sub-Saharan African, and Scandinavian.  Often people realized I was a tourist, but the first guess at my nationality was almost never American.

I think now is a good time to interject and assure you all that I am very proud to be an American.  I love my country for all it’s great accomplishments and it’s flaws.  I am acutely aware of how fortunate I am to be American by birth when there are people all over the world who work very hard to naturalize and become Americans.  I am also keenly aware that many people — all over the world — love America and Americans for a multitude of reasons.  So please don’t send me mean emails about how I’m not a good patriot or how I am stereotyping and making it seem like the world hates Americans.  That said, I also truly subscribe to George McGovern’s theory that “The highest form of patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plane.” so I tend to shy away from the blind (dare I say uninformed?) patriotism of, let’s say, Toby Keith… which is too bad because I LOVED this song when I was little (and the hair, oh my!).  And let’s not fool ourselves into thinking there aren’t people — large groups of them — out there that dislike America and Americans.  I’m not saying they should or shouldn’t.  To each his own.  I’m also not going to even address the embassy protests of last month, but suffice it to say it was a friendly (if you call fire, destruction, and death friendly) reminder that sometimes it is best to lay low.

However, I have decided fairly recently that I will no longer attempt to blend.  I will wave my Americaness around proudly (and no, I have never claimed to be Canadian or worn a Canadian flag to disguise my American citizenship).  I have lived outside of the US for a little over three years now and up until now I have held the theory that it is far better to just blend in then to make a point to stand out.  That’s right.  Up until now.

Some of you may have heard my theory that a little Turkish is better than a lot of Turkish because people think you’re sweet for trying to learn and that it’s cute when you mess up or don’t understand.  They tend to be more patient with you and try harder to understand and listen to what you’re saying.  Where as with a fair grasp of the language, a pretty acceptable accent, and a little bit too much Mediterranean in your blood people get frustrated and annoyed or even angry when you don’t have a quick and perfect response.  They are also more likely to call you on any faux pas you might commit.

Wear a skirt with tall riding boots but no tights? Don’t worry, some helpful abla will let you know that in her day that wasn’t what proper girls did and every amca on the bus will be staring.  Go outside with wet hair to walk the dog? You’ll be told to get back inside before you catch death or just stared at like you’re on a psychopathic rampage.  Try to go for a run in the great outdoors/along the sidewalks of Ankara? People will think there’s an emergency and that’s why you’re running.  Bring a dog with you?  See my post about that.

But.  And this is a big but.  If you were to say, put on a baseball cap while doing any of the above (preferably Red Sox or Texas Longhorns, but no one’s perfect): your sins are forgiven and suddenly it’s a cool cultural experience for everyone.

Abla: Look!  I told you Americans were strange.  It’s as though she likes to run.

Amca: You were right!  And who knew that they took their filthy pets with them for those things!  Is her hair wet?  She’ll catch death… Surely we should tell her.

Abla: Nah, she’s American.  They don’t die that way.  They die from eating too much McDonald’s and living wild  and crazy lives.

Seriously though.  The past few days I’ve stopped trying to blend.  I’ve worn my baseball cap for my morning runs (originally to keep my bangs out of my face, but now to be American), I’ve had long and obvious conversations in public in English, I’ve even started answering my phone with the American “hello?” and not the Turkish “alo?” or “affendim?”.  And you know what?  People are nicer again.  People think it’s so great that I’ve learned so much Turkish and that I like Turkey and are all too happy to help me find whatever it is I’m looking for.  They’re even nicer to my dog.

I’m crediting this to my decision to embrace the fact that even if I can blend, I don’t want to.  I’m happy to be American and happy to know that I get to go home to America in a few short years.  Of course the fact that it’s Bayram is probably more of an influence on everyone’s general mood than anything else, but I’m going to keep pretending it’s not.  If for no other reason than I don’t really feel like doing my hair and I have some errands to run… where’s that baseball cap?!

Things I’m not good at…

… while Mr. Awesome is away.

Wait, you thought this was going to be a list of things at which I do not excel in general.  That’d be silly.  It’d be an empty blog post!  Hahaha.  Come on, that was funny!  It would be a very, very long list and one I’d really rather not focus on.  (Though a mental note has been made to add “editing out my not-so-funny jokes” to the list of things I’m not doing while he’s out-of-town…)

I know it’s silly — especially if you knew me before I met Mr. Awesome when I was a pretty independent single lady — but this being my first time home alone in this new home, I’m noticing the things that I forget or don’t like to do or just don’t feel motivated about without Mr. Awesome and thought I’d share a few with you to see if they ring any bells or if I’m all alone in this.

1. Locking the door at night.  I do it, obviously, but I have to seriously remind myself.  We have those awesome European doors that lock when you shut them and you just have to use the keys to dead bolt the lock shut.  It’s a lovely feature.  Unless you once lived somewhere that you did laundry in the basement and often in pjs and if that’s the case than you might lock yourself out and have to walk fifteen blocks to a friend’s house who (thankfully) was home and had a spare key.  Not that it is a true story from my time in Germany, just you know, that it could happen.  Needless to say Mr. Awesome is usually in charge of locking the door at night so I have to make a conscious decision to lock it.  And then get out of bed at some point in the night to make sure I did because my mind starts racing and wondering if I did in fact lock the door.  (Now’s a good time to remind any concerned readers that I live in a building with really good security and am SURE that I’m fine even if I forgot to triple bolt the doors… it’s just a weird thing now.)

2. Getting out of bed before 9am.  I really, really, REALLY wanted to start my getting up early thing this week.  I’ve set my alarm every day for the past four days to get up by 8:30.  Every morning I’ve managed to come up with some excuse not to get out of bed before then.  How!?  Usually I don’t get up with Mr. Awesome (that man is up and out of bed by 6:30), but I do try to get up and out of bed as he’s leaving.  And if not when he’s leaving, when my alarm goes of at 8:00, it seems like a fair time to be getting out of bed.  Not now.  Not when there is no stirring in the house before the alarm starts.

3.  Drinking wine.  Yes, I know that isn’t something one should strive to excel or not at (you obviously haven’t met some of my friends…), but I feel pathetic opening up a bottle on my own these days.  Trust me, this hasn’t always been the case, but for some reason (maybe I just know better) I feel silly opening a bottle of wine when Mr. Awesome isn’t home to help drink it.

4. Make good, healthy, nutritious meals.  Not that all my meals are good, healthy and nutritious when Mr. Awesome is here… they aren’t.  BUT.  I am much less likely to try to pass off a bowl of cereal or a smoothie as dinner when he is home than when he is not.  I shouldn’t admit this, but on Sunday I ate cereal for breakfast (with a cup of coffee), lunch (with added blueberries), and dinner (different kind — I had polished off the other box at lunch).  That’s probably not good for a person no matter how healthy Kashi’s cereals are.

Luckily, I had some friends over so that I had a good reason to make a good, healthy, nutritious, and dare I say? delicious meal for dinner.  It was great to have the company and they are such fun company.  And, thanks to their two-year-old hitting the terrible twos in a major way, they also serve as a wonderful reminder to take my birth control.  I love you guys, C family!

Gerisayim (n.: countdown) Only 30 days, 21 hours, 13 minutes* — Oh, my!

To what are we counting down?, you ask.  I’ll tell you.  The Istanbul Marathon.  I, of course, am not running the full marathon but instead the 8km portion.  Which is more than I’ve ever managed to run straight.  It’s part of my 30 in 30 and possibly the most difficult one, although having re-started my 30 days of no swearing multiple times now that might not be true…

I’ve been trying to get my lazy butt in gear to run this 8km for a while now, but have been a serious slacker — especially during the time I was in the US.  Last night I proudly managed to run two miles straight without even intending to.  Which is a start, right?  Granted, I need to get another three in before I actually manage to run an 8km, but hey I can run/walk the 8km right?  The answer to that is yes.

While this post is a bit of a pat on my own back for doing two miles straight without even meaning to, it’s more to tell the funny story of how I’ve been getting by in my training.  First, I have to give a quick plug to the podcasts I’ve been using.  I [heart] Chubby Jones in a major way.  She has pretty sweet taste in music and is awesomely motivating to run with (however, might I recommend against doing the booty bump or dancing it out if you’re on a treadmill in a busy gym while listening to her podcasts? Otherwise definitely do what she says… and heck, do a booty bounce if you’re feeling it just be prepared for laughing and/or falling off treadmills).  Lately I’ve started using a few of my own playlists to keep me going and thanks to my awesome friend, MKD, I always include ‘Hold On’ by the amazing Wilson Phillips.  I might also sing along and dance.  Which, I’m sure, is part of why people look at me funny when I run outside.  The other part, however is that I often bring my running buddy along.

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My running buddy.

I don’t always bring her with me, but when I do it creates a bit of a scene.  She’s a little slow these days (I’m trying to get faster and she’s still trotting on at our old pace), but it’s nice to have her with me because:

1. she’s a good pace keeper

2. once she starts running she’d rather keep running than stop and walk for a while so she’s motivating that way

3. I feel guilty leaving her at home when I’m going for an outdoor run

4. who doesn’t like a running buddy that smiles the whole time?  It’s all good right?  Wrong.

If you’re a facebook friend that you already got the very short version of this story.  Bear with me (or, you know… stop reading.  I’m not forcing you).  Not only is Ankara generally not runner-friendly (I’m looking at you, streets without sidewalks or crooked pavement), but it’s not terribly dog-friendly either.  I guess I just always thought that people who didn’t like dogs would just get out of our way or ignore us… I thought wrong.  When I run with Olive people either run up to pet her or jump out of her way — from like 10 feet away.  It’s strange.  I don’t really appreciate either, but prefer the jumping out of the way from afar generally.  Mostly I can just ignore it because, well, I have the dog and loud iPod to keep me occupied.

On our run yesterday for some reason people were especially rude and snotty about Olive running with me.  In the past, I’ve had people ask if she was chasing me (which is just ridiculous because she’s on a leash attached to me! Granted, I strap it across my chest so I don’t have to hold it, but seriously?) or sort of act shocked and jump into the street to avoid us (on those ten-foot wide sidewalks).  Last night I had more people look at me disgusted and pull their children closer as we passed than usual.  I understand the cultural distaste for dogs and the lack of trust from the street dogs here, but did you see that picture of Olive?  I should point out here that Olive isn’t her usual lovey dovey/need to make friends with everyone self when on a run.  She means business.  She’s not angry or domineering in any way, but she’s focused on running and is just trying to keep up with me while her tongue hangs out of her mouth like a loon.

Back to yesterday’s run… There were two girls about 25 years old walking in front of us on a street that, of course, had no sidewalks. I assumed they heard us coming, but when the one girl turned to look, she saw Olive (still at least 3 feet away from her at this point) and she screamed.  Like a scary movie bad-guy-is-hacking-the-closet-door-you’re-hiding-behind-to-pieces-with-an-ax scream.  And jumped — literally 2 feet in the air.  I wanted to laugh, but her shrill scream scared Olive who jumped away and almost into on coming traffic.

Remember this moment.  Make a mental note to refer back to it when people later ask when I lost it.  I had had enough of the stares and inappropriate reactions (read: over dramatic).  So I screamed at them.  I started in English with some choice words that mean I will have to start my 30 days of no swearing over again (poop! I was up to 11 days this time!!!) and when they looked at me confused I yelled at them in Turkish to be careful and pay better attention.  As they started to mouth off back to me, I told them they didn’t have to worry, she only eats small children and was full anyway.  Then put my earphones back in and kept running.
And so that’s how it came to me.  I will from now on use that line when people respond in a way I feel is inappropriate to my adorable running buddy.  Also, I will start running in the mornings.  In part because there are fewer people out on the streets in the mornings and in part because the 8k starts at 9 am and I’ve been reading (in lieu of running) about races and how you should train at the same time of day as the race.  Which, by the way I’m not “racing” per se.  Just trying to survive and finish in the time allotted (which is totally doable since it’s four hours).
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And the would-be vicious beast doubles as a foot warmer post-run.  Convenient.
*as of the publishing of this post.

Temizlemek (v.: to clean)

I finally caved.  Mr. Awesome has wanted to hire a cleaning lady for a while now, but I had resisted.  Until now.

You see, in Sarajevo we had two.  I know, I know.  Let me explain though (don’t worry, I still understand how spoiled we are and am incredibly thankful that I can be spoiled like this because in America, I highly doubt we’d ever afford to hire serious help).  The woman who did all of our ironing and some of the laundry was once Mr. Awesome’s cook (yep.), but then I moved in and did the cooking.  We couldn’t fire her because, well we felt too guilty, so we kept her on once a week to do the ironing which suited me just fine.  (For those of you that don’t know me, or never sat in a meeting with me, you should know that I hate ironing and avoid it at all costs.  Even if that means going wrinkled.)  And then we had a normal cleaning lady to do the expected cleaning: vacuuming, dusting, toilets, etc.

I loved the ladies we had working for us in Sarajevo.  They were fantastic and incredibly sweet — even patient with the fact that they had to pantomime everything since I didn’t speak Bosnian — but I didn’t like sitting around on my butt while they cleaned around me.  It made me feel so very lazy and like a spoiled princess (arguments could be made for that point, but let’s pretend not).  So when we moved to Turkey I wanted to try to go it alone.

(Important note here: we have a dog.  A big one.  She’s about 30 kilograms (65lbs).  She is the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet and loves everybody, but she’s big.  And she thinks she’s not… So finding someone to clean our house here that would be okay with being left alone with her did present a challenge.  And my justification for not hiring anyone.)

I did the cleaning and the ironing (obviously ironing was limited mostly to Mr. Awesome’s shirts because well, see above about how I dislike ironing).  And we talked about hiring someone a few times, but I would always avoid making phone calls or inquiries in the hopes that I could just put it off.  After spending 45 minutes using a brush to get dog hair out of one of the six carpets in the house (in my defense, it was the biggest carpet and the one puppy likes laying and rolling on the most the others are easier to clean but there’s always a little dog fluff even after a good vacuum), I decided perhaps I’d more seriously consider future opportunities to hire a good cleaning lady.

So a couple of weeks ago when I got an email from a friend saying her amazing cleaning lady was available as one family that she had worked for for years (like 19 of them!) had gone back to the US, I thought it was a good time to start dipping my toe in the pool of cleaning ladies (is that as cheesy to you as it was to me?).  Assuming that I’d get away with the general no dog policy of cleaning ladies I sent an email asking how she felt about dogs.  The response?  She’s good with dogs, but doesn’t like cats.  I had to hire her.

Today is the first day that our house will be completely clean from top to bottom.  I would always do a few things every day to make it more manageable (our house is freakishly big for just two people and a dog who is prone to shedding) so I’m very excited about the idea that it will all be super clean at once.  Do I feel silly sitting at home while she cleans around me?  A little, but the bigger house makes it easier to stay out of her way.  Plus… there’s no dog hair on my carpets.  I’m amazed.

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