Yabancı (n.: foreigner, stranger, unknown, unfamiliar)

While yabancı could be a reference to my not blogging lately, it is not.  I’ll get to the real point of this post in a moment, but first a bit of explanation of my absence.  I will start by saying it is not because I’m pregnant.  I refuse to be one of those people that blames my having a baby for everything I let slip in my life (at least for now).  I have friends who tell me that they’d love to keep up on this or that but can’t because they have a baby and I won’t understand until I do, but it will happen.  I refuse.  I think it’s an issue of prioritizing and nothing more.  Sure, prioritizing your child over other things is a good thing… just stop blaming your child for your inability to read more books, go to the spa, do yoga, write blog posts, etc.  The blunt reason I haven’t blogged is because I haven’t prioritized it plain and simple.  Though the good excuse version is that Mr. Awesome and I took a vacation back to the States for a few weeks.  Could I have blogged about it?  Sure.  But it wouldn’t really be part of our adventures in Turkish, now would it?

So yabancı. It is a word used quite often in Turkey.  Maybe because it also means stranger and unfamiliar and unknown… maybe because there isn’t always a bad connotation to the word foreigner.  In fact, why do I think there’s a bad connotation?  Is it my American sensitivity that makes me think it’s rude to call someone a foreigner?  Is it because it makes me feel like an outsider to be called a foreigner?  Or is it my backpacking experience which made me equate people knowing I’m a foreigner with ripping me off/trying to swipe my passport and credit card (which is also sort of a strange American thought process by the way)?  Whatever the reason, I always think being called a “foreigner” is a bad thing.  And it happens a lot here.  A lot.  A LOT.

Whether it’s after ordering my coffee in perfect Turkish with no questions about my nationality until I specify that I want a “venti” sized coffee or when I mispronounce a word slightly (‘vanilya’ vs. ‘vanilla’ was once my nemesis), I get called a yabancı at least three times a week.  And ironically, it’s never to my face… it’s always to the other barista or someone near by as though I won’t understand it or notice despite our having just had a three minute conversation in Turkish.  It is often also used as a way to say, “she’s not very bright… she’s a yabancı” or “she won’t understand, she’s a yabancı” or “I’d rather not be the one to file her paperwork, she’s a yabancı”.  Or at least that’s how I take it: as a condescending rebuke.  And it drives me mad!

Is it just me?  Am I reading too much into a simple noun or is it as insulting as I think it is?

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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!

Geçmiş Olsun (idiom, roughly: May it Pass Quickly)

I was toying with what to call title this post… safety? security? peace? tragedy?   But then I realized the best title would be the saying that is used so universally here and one I’ve heard a lot in the past day, “geçmiş olsun”.  This phrase is used for illness, car accidents, any sort of upset to the norm really.  And apparently, for suicide attacks on embassies.  I’d like to write all about how it felt and sounded and smelled (you wouldn’t think about that, would you?).  I’m just not there yet. I know I will be, but until then, to all of us: geçmiş olsun.

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