İbretler Alındı (idiom: Lessons Learned)

The past 17 days of protests have taught me quite a bit about my usual habits around town.  Yes, I know the Gezi protests started  well before then, but they hadn’t really spread to Ankara and thus affected my life until about 17 days ago.  The below list is really short and all very selfishly based so if you’re looking for life lessons this probably isn’t the place.  I hope…

Lesson 1: I base far too much happiness on how easily and quickly I can get to Starbucks.  See, there are three — yes three! — Starbucks in what I now see as my “no-go” zone.  Perhaps I should take a step back and explain that?  I have always had a general rule about avoiding protests and large gatherings that could turn violent especially when overseas or when riot police are present (riot police are just scary).  So the past few weeks I’ve taken to just avoiding the area from Kuğulu Park to Kızılay — which is also the main drag between my house and the old part of town.  Now that I’ve explained that I’ve taken to just avoiding the whole area I can go back to my original sad rant about my three most convenient Starbucks.  See there is a bus that goes right past might house and conveniently past all three of these magical Starbucks (okay, not right past but within a 100 meter walk or so).  I haven’t been able to enjoy any of those three and have taken to much longer and more tiring Starbucks trips.  Yeah, I’ll go ahead and add a quick #firstworldproblems right here.

Lesson 2: Under proper conditions, I could very easily turn into Jimmy Stewart from Rear Window.  That should be self explanatory and if you don’t get the reference you either don’t realize that I have great views of the action from my windows (with binoculars of course) or you’ve never seen Rear Window.  If it’s the later, we can’t be friends anymore.

Lesson 3: I am not easy to scare.  Apparently these protests are really freaking some people out.  Mostly foreigners, of course.  Me?  I’m kinda loving them.  Not only do I love the whole idea of democracy and the ability to tell your leaders you don’t like what they’re doing or disagree with them (ahem, Dubya, I’m still looking at you) in public forums, but I’m a bit of a social media geek.  What’s that you say?  I’m a lazy blogger, mostly just retweet, Instagram photos of my food, and FaceBook silly updates?  Yes, that’s all true… but… you’re missing a whole half of the equation.  Sure, that’s all I put out there on social media, but I take a whole lot more in.  I’m a pretty sophisticated online stalker.  Just saying.  So I’m loving watching all the action (from the comfort of my own couch with a handy iPhone).

Lesson 4: Thousands of dollars of Turkish classes were in fact worth it.  Now I just have to get better at twitter Turkish. (See lesson 3).

Lesson 5:  I have a big mouth.  I’m also perhaps annoyingly opinionated.  My being opinionated isn’t the annoying thing, but the fact that I share (over share?) those opinions probably is… Okay, definitely is.  I even annoy myself with it sometimes.  Sorry about that family and friends that have been around me lately (or ever).  Just because I have an opinion (and it’s most likely right and/or the most awesome opinion ever) doesn’t mean it needs to be shared.  I’ll try to work on this one.

Lesson 6: I take my freedoms as an American for granted.  Most specifically my first amendment rights.  I often forget that just because I am an American doesn’t mean my rights to free speech and expression are extended to other countries.  I’m a bit of a smart ass when I’m on my A-game and I forget that despite the fact that I strongly think people everywhere should also have those rights, they don’t.  And nor do I when I am in countries that don’t grant those rights to their citizens.  An important lesson to remember when I live in a country that is now looking to prosecute people for their twitter comments.  #oops.


Sessizlik (adj.: silence, quiet, stillness, muteness)

You may have noticed a serious lack of blogging from me about the events that have been happening in Ankara and all over Turkey.  Yes, I’m referring to the protests that all started over a park in Istanbul.  It isn’t that I don’t care or that I’m not obsessively following the events in an almost sick way via news feeds (largely international given the lack of balanced local media coverage), social media, and from my windows which overlook the city center.  It isn’t that I don’t have an opinion on the issue (and if you follow me on twitter or know me in real life you know I have a rather strong opinion on almost everything).  It isn’t that I’m afraid of making my voice known though I think you’d forgive me for such a fear given how many people have been arrested/detained for their words on social media platforms.  

My silence is because I have no answers for what is happening.  I have no new stories to add to the debate.  Nor do I possess the magic solution that would bring back the quiet to the cities of Turkey.  And the truth is: I don’t think that solution exists.  These protests are giving people on both sides the opportunity to say things loudly that before we only whispered — for good or bad.  

The other truth is that this is not my fight.  I am not the expat that has moved to Turkey and taken it as my own country.  I know that my time here has an end date and there are even times I eagerly await that end date to come.  While I will stay out of the debate (at least on this blog) I want to make it very clear that as an American I fiercely support freedom of speech, expression, and the right to assemble.  

Engel olmak (v.: to frustrate; to hinder; to prevent)

From that title, I could be going down a number of roads that lead to rants.  Lately more than usual too.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I’m always so easy to frustrate when things don’t go according to what I think is best… But that’s definitely a different posting for another time.  

Today’s discussion will focus on the frustration of accomplishing one of my 30 in 30 (obviously post 30 weeks).  Alas, I have not braved the learning of the manual transmission.  Please don’t send me a note telling me how easy it is and how much you believe in my abilities.  Intellectually I know all this, emotionally and in reality it’s just not going to happen here in Ankara.  Land of crazy drivers, annoyingly stupid traffic, and hills.  Not. Gonna. Happen.  Luckily, I was able to convince Mr. Awesome of the need for a car I can drive with the helpful expected addition of Baby Awesome (apparently while buses and taxis are safe enough for me, he’s pretty sure that he’d rather his baby not be flopping around in them which is fair).

So we’ve been on a mission to find a safe, reliable, automatic transmission-ed, used car.  Which brings me to being frustrated.  Why on earth do people selling used cars think they’re worth thousands, literally thousands of dollars more than they are?!  I even had one guy justify it to me that it was worth THREE THOUSAND dollars more than the actual value because it’s already registered VAT (tax) free and there aren’t a lot of those cars and so it is worth the extra money.  SERIOUSLY?!  That’s why we buy TAX FREE cars!!!  So we don’t pay the extra money for taxes!!!  

I know the selection will be limited.  I get that.  Silly me with the need for an automatic transmission.  I don’t need something nice and new.  It doesn’t even have to be pretty.  It just has to be reliable and safe.  And four doors (baby seat).  And not a stupid, crazy price.  Is that too much to ask?!!!  My experience of the past month to six weeks says yes.  Yes it apparently is too much to ask.

Sır (n.: secret, mystery, confidence)

In my long absence from blogging, tweeting, and instragraming I’m sure some of you thought I had just given up and was done.  Or perhaps you remembered me complaining that my iPhone was on it’s last leg and thus my tweeting and instagraming were done for.  Or maybe you just thought I had disappeared (though I hope not, because I would have liked to have gotten more “are you alive?” emails if that were the case).  The truth is I’ve been so absent because I have been keeping a secret.

As it turns out, I’m awful at keeping my own secrets.  If you’ve ever told me a secret, don’t worry: with other people’s I’m like a vault.  I used to keep secrets for a living in fact, and was damn good at it.  But my own secrets?  Nope.  Can’t do it.  And the bigger the secret, the worse I am at keeping it.  So in order to keep my secret I unplugged and left you all in the dark.  My apologies for that, but I couldn’t help myself.

The good news?  It’s time that I can tell my secret (and am therefore back to blogging!).  Here’s a picture of our puppy to explain:

Yep!  It's true.  We're expecting Baby Awesome.

Yep.  It’s true.  We’re expecting Baby Awesome.  We’re very excited and also a bit nervous.  I’m really good at taking care of puppies and other people’s kids, but like, full time?  Yeah… that’s… well, scary.  And exciting.  Right, so now that you know why I’ve been avoiding you all I’m going to make a vow here and now to try to keep this from turning into a “mommy blog”.  I love mommy blogs these days, so no offense to any mommy bloggers, but I’ll start up a new one if I need to have an outlet for all the baby stuff.  I’ll try to keep this one to our adventures in Turkish!

Don’t worry, I know I owe you updates of all sorts from the past 14 (+) weeks.  They’re coming!

Güneş (n: sun)

Thank goodness!  The sun has returned to Ankara.  This winter has been really mild (though I’m comparing it to the crazy winter of Sarajevo last year).  Before anyone tells me that Ankara was way bad last year and I don’t understand a crazy winter, let me present my evidence:

Yes, that is my old front walkway.  Yes, we had to dig trenches for Olive.

Yes, that is my old front walkway. Yes, we had to dig trenches for Olive.

And that was just from one weekend (about 1.5 meters (that’s 5 feet, but you know it’s bad when the weather reporters discuss snow forecasts in meters) total).  It kept snowing for a month.  Anything else about how bad the winter was here last year?

But let’s get back to the happiness.  The sun has made other appearances, but today was the first truly lovely day.  It didn’t hurt that I had a full schedule that included a couple of outdoor excursions so I noticed it more.  The weather was warm (in the sun) and Olive loved it!  We got to go and just sit in the sun for a bit while puppy sniffed EVERYTHING.  And it makes me even more excited about extending my “garden”.  I trimmed up all the herbs yesterday and am excited about them growing more in the sun — I even put them on the back patio for a couple of hours of fresh air and direct sun.  Tomorrow is supposed to be just as nice, but I’m not getting too excited.  Yet.  Tomorrow all bets are off about my excitement!

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