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.  

%d bloggers like this: