A Tale of Two Swatches

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. 

My watch is the reason I am unhappy with the color of my hair.

You read that correctly. I have two Swatches and two hairdressers named Orhan, and my hair is just a big ol’ mess because of all four of those things/people.

In June, I went to Orhan #1 for a routine updo for a work-related event. I’ve known Orhan #1 longer than I’ve known my husband. In fact, I went to him the day I went on my first date with my husband. He’s seen me in some pretty desperate beauty situations, but he’s always managed to help me pull myself together. He’s always made me look good and no one, I mean no one in all of Turkey can do a blowout like he does (AND FOR ONLY 5 LIRA! That’s less than a cup of Starbucks coffee).

But, talented though he may be, he’s a shady character and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him (which would actually be pretty far because he’s a tiny man and I am also pretty sure he stays so thin by using drugs, but that’s none of my business).

ANYWAY. On that fateful day, I came to the salon wearing my usual silver/white gold standard jewelry pieces. For the party, I was planning to wear gold, so when I got dressed (at the salon) after I was all dolled up, I removed Swatch #1 (my first Christmas present from Canim), because as you can see, it is silver.

Two or three days after the party, I realized my watch had gone missing. I searched every crevice of my apartment and Canim’s car, to no avail. I realized (with a twinge of horror) that I had left it at the salon. I wanted to believe that Orhan or his employees had found it and put it in a safe place, waiting for me to return. But when Canim called him (several times), he said he hadn’t seen any watches.

CUT TO: Late August, when I returned to Turkey from New York. My precious husband surprised me with a new, identical Swatch surrounded by roses. I mean really, I don’t know how I got so lucky!

A few days later, I received a message from Orhan #1. It was a picture of – you guessed it! – Swatch #1. He said someone found it while cleaning the salon. My first thought was, “You mean you haven’t cleaned the salon in two months??”

Canim said he probably had the watch the whole time, but held on to it in case I didn’t return to Turkey. When he saw that I had returned (we’re Facebook friends), he decided to let me know he had the watch so I would go back. I really don’t want to believe that theory, especially because O does not need to be sneaky to get me to go back. I like the way he does my hair! That’s enough for me!

So, as “revenge”, when I got married a few days later, I went to the salon and got my hair and makeup done. I lied about where I was going (“a friend’s wedding”), and left the salon in a hurry to go get hitched. Two days later, (thanks again to Facebook), Orhan saw his work of art all over my wedding announcement. I only paid 1/3 of the price for the bridal package. Well, to be fair, I didn’t have a real wedding and the price is completely bogus anyway.

I haven’t gone back to his salon since. It’s been 3 months, and hair can get really jacked up in 3 months without proper care.

Since August, I’ve bounced back and forth between some salons in my town, but they suck. Plain and simple. And they charge more. I decided to be brave and let Orhan #2 (who may in fact be a Neanderthal) dye my hair. I figured dark brown is the EASIEST thing to do, aside from black. I brought pictures AND my live-in translator to explain it to them.

Tell me why I ended up with that horrendous BLEACHY CHLORINE GREEN color?!!? So after a very calm, firm, “Bu renk istemiyorum. Kahverengi istiyorum. Sari, yesil istemiyorum. Bu renk cok buyuk bir problem,” and a call to my husband, they managed to get it right. Mind you, Orhan #2 was blowing my green hair out like it was nothing, chomping is gum like a cow, and when I called him out on it, he laughed and said,”This is a problem?”
That was two weeks ago, and my old blonde (but not green) color is already creeping back in and I made the mistake of wrapping my hair in a white towel after washing it. Let’s just say I found out where the reddish-brown dye has gone.

My second wedding is in less than 50 days. I need to get this color right once and for all. So what do I do? Swallow my pride, even though I was wronged first, and go back to Orhan #1? Do I try to find a third party to do it?

I don’t know what to do. 😦

The Foreign Feminist

feminist11Spend a short time in Turkey and you will notice that on the surface, women here are more feminine than the majority of their American counterparts. That’s not to say that American women have abandoned their bras and their razors, but the gender roles here are just somehow different. If you look at the number of housewives (homemakers, whatever) in Turkey versus the number of housewives (homemakers) in the States, I feel like those figures would support my claim. While plenty of women have careers outside of the home in Turkey, it seems that as a whole, Turkish society still allows for women to stay at home.

Since the “f” word has appeared in the title and the photo for this post, perhaps you are expecting me to complain about gender roles in Turkey. Well, I’m not going to. Over the last few days/weeks, I’ve been wondering what the “feminist” spectrum really looks like. Of course, I believe women and men must be socially and economically equal. I believe both sexes are loved equally by God. Both sexes deserve the same opportunities to achieve their goals and pursue happiness. If they have the same job, their salaries ought to be the same. But does being a feminist mean that I HAVE TO want to be top dog at my job? Does it mean that I HAVE TO want to put my career before everything else, including my marriage and my family?

While working on my master’s this summer, I told my advisor about my promotion at work. She liked to patronize me and suggested I only got the promotion because I speak English. I corrected her right away and let her know that I work with many other English-speakers. Then she said,”Well, good for you. Keep climbing that ladder. God knows you definitely wouldn’t want to be a Turkish housewife.” WHY IS THAT A BAD THING?!

Could being a feminist ALSO possibly mean that if I choose to, I can have as many children as I want — which is realistically no more than two — and then stay home to raise them myself? I worked in a daycare for four years. I took care of infants (8 weeks old and up), which meant I regularly had to take babies away from their crying mothers and assure everyone that the babies would be just fine when they came to get them 8 hours later.

Don’t get me wrong – 90% of those mothers were doing what they absolutely had to do in order to support their families, and they were spending a FORTUNE to make sure their babies were taken care of. But deep down, it always terrified me to think that I would most likely be one of those mothers one day, and I wouldn’t have $15,000 to send my infant to the “best” daycare in my area. I would most likely only be able to afford those sketchy home daycares that may or may not double as a meth lab.

I live in a country where it’s normal and acceptable to be a housewife. I’ve seen the extremes, too. There are the Desperate Housewives, who leave their villas looking like a walking advertisement for their plastic surgeon, in an ensemble that costs more than my entire wardrobe combined. Then there are the desperate housewives (there’s a difference) who have at least three kids dangling off of their exhausted bodies, which they have to hoist up onto the bus, along with the stroller and groceries, and they probably haven’t had even five minutes to themselves just to shower in two days.

I’d most likely fall somewhere in the middle, which isn’t a terrible place to be. But of course, at this point, being a stay-at-home mom is more of a pipe dream for me. I’ve crunched some numbers, and I would have to work at my current job for at least 3 more years before a baby could even be a twinkle in my eye.

Then of course, there’s the other side of the coin. Even if Canim won the lottery and we could live in a penthouse overlooking the sea and I could afford to fly to NY as often as I’d like while still being able to afford having my hair blown out thrice a week, what kind of a housewife would I be? You decide:

– I used detergent to mop the balcony (apparently that’s a no-no).
– I look up recipes on the internet – which women here won’t explicitly poo-poo, but they’ve remarked on it with some disdain. Meanwhile, I feel like I should be applauded for actually using Pinterest for recipes and attempting to make them Pinterest-perfect to catch up with my peers in the States!  Excuse me for not having the recipe for dolma in my DNA!
– I have no qualms about paying another woman to clean my home.
– I have no qualms about asking my husband to drop our work clothes off at the dry cleaners so everything can be pressed to perfection (because neatness matters MUCH MORE here than it does in the States).
– If I don’t have polished nails, I can still sleep well at night. How can I clean my house AND maintain a perfect manicure???? CHOOSE ONE.
– I am comfortable leaving my house without makeup, although admittedly I will not go to work that way.
– I can relax and even SLEEP knowing that there is laundry to be folded, floors to be vacuumed, windows to be cleaned (and what’s the point of that?  They always look streaky and the dust outside makes them dirty again a few hours later).
– I love having my own money and spending it or saving it (LOL) as I please. If I had to ask my husband for money, I think it would make me sick.

So, I could be a successful housewife, just not by Turkish standards. But my husband loves me, even with all of the things I listed, and he doesn’t measure me by Turkish standards. My value as a woman does not depend on my domestic capabilities or my professional accolades. It depends on something else, which my husband already seems to understand (hence his decision to be my husband), and I, for some reason, am struggling to figure out.

The Lonely Yabanci

We’ve been married for three weeks, and it has been a little crazy. Canim is a great husband. No surprise there. His family and I have gotten closer and we are able to understand each other better, though neither side has really improved their language skills.

Things at work have been rough. My new position is literally giving me gray hair. I found one two hours ago. More work, a lot more responsibility (read: PRESSURE), no extra money, and my colleagues are (inexplicably) still showing resentment towards me because I was chosen for the job.

On top of that, due in part to my colleagues being spiteful, my company informed me that everything in my apartment (which was leased by my job until July of this year) has to be returned (and replaced at my expense) by mid-October. To add insult to injury, a company associate disrespected Canim.

BRO. I flipped out. I showed my teeth. I was scolded by my boss but I refused to back down. Our little intervention ended peacefully and while I know she’ll never admit it, I think she was shocked and a little bit impressed by my ability to go from Glinda the Good Witch to the Wicked Witch of the West and back in no time. I knew I had it in me, but she has only ever seen me being a delicate, agreeable flower.

The thing is I JUST made vows to my husband two weeks ago, so they’re fresh in my mind. I will forsake (or annihilate) all others for him, if necessary. It was necessary.

Feeling betrayed by my already sketchy colleagues, plus being in the doghouse with my boss has made me realize that I don’t have close friends here. I have plenty of people who care about me, and for that I am blessed, but the people in this country who really know me and love me anyway can be counted on one hand, with fingers to spare.

Sometimes I feel like people are “Turkish nice” to me, which means they smile at me whenever they see me, they exchange various pleasantries and olsuns with me, and they may occasionally gush over me because I said one Turkish word or because my dress is cute. But the minute I make a mistake, or raise my voice (in excitement, not even anger), or if I dare to put my foot down for any reason, they will kus me and forever consider me to be an entitled ingrate.

My fellow yabancis are no better. Sometimes they’re actually worse. You’d think our foreignness would lead to a sense of camaraderie. Instead, it leads to a sense of competition, where one party inevitably feels the need to be the boss or the expert.

Why can’t we all just chill out and lift each other up?

This stress and loneliness has led to me feeling depressed. Not necessarily sad, although definitely sad sometimes. But I feel like my battery is low and I just want to escape. I sleep a lot, and I am often irritable towards the one person who loves me for me — Canim.

I wonder if other yabancis ever feel like this. I wonder if this is just a lame pity party and if it will pass soon.

Spoiler Alert: We ELOPED!

"It's a beautiful night. We're looking for something [fun] to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you."

“It’s a beautiful night. We’re looking for something [fun] to do. Hey baby, I think I wanna marry you.”

Your eyes do not deceive you. The yabanci bride who only wanted one small, simple, intimate wedding ceremony will have had THREE celebrations (of varying degrees) before the end of 2015. But hey, at least the first one was small, simple, and intimate. 🙂 

We eloped for practical and romantic reasons. Practical: Housing. It’s a long story, but I was going to have to change (read: DOWNGRADE) my apartment and we were tired of living in two different cities, so in an effort to keep things helal (or halal or kosher or whatever you want to say), we decided to be married on paper so we could live together without feeling a black cloud of ayip looming over us. Romantic: There was no way we could wait until January to be husband and wife. We’re each other’s best friends, partners, teammates, all of that good stuff. To us, engagement is not about figuring out whether or not your fiance is “the one”. That’s what dating is for. I told Canim not to propose unless he was prepared to marry me the next day if need be (why would “need be”? I don’t know but I had to be dramatic to make my point). So, we were ready to be married as soon as we got engaged. Engagement (again, to us) is about planning, preparing, and making arrangements for the future. Where will you live? How will you balance finances? Blah blah blah boring adult things. 

In July, we got my parents’ blessing to go ahead and be married on paper as long as we will still have the reception in January and the American reception in July. Fair enough. Everybody gets a little bit of what they want. I bought a simple lace sheath, my brilliant and artistic friend made me a brooch bouquet (which will be used at all three weddings), I Pinterested a hairstyle, ordered some pink shoes and sixpence coins, and two weeks after I returned to Turkey (August 30th), I became Mrs. Canim. 

In another post, I will explain the process for an American-Turkish marriage ceremony. Most of that was a blur, to be honest, because Canim is SUPER efficient (a quality that did not really shine until I returned to Turkey), so I just had to sign along the dotted line for most of it. 

The Wedding Day: 
Canim took me to the kuafor for hair and make-up at 10:30. Before that, we made a stop at Platin to buy new nail polish for my “professional” manicure. I had a meltdown the night before over my inability to successfully apply two coats of nail polish to any of my 20 nails. I just can’t do it when I’m nervous!

After I was dolled up, my brother-in-law (BIL) and mother-in-law (MIL) picked me up. I was disappointed to learn that the bozos at the jeweler had failed to have my wedding band ready in time for the ceremony. However, I opted to not go Bridezilla on said bozos because, to quote my husband (hehehe), “Darling, here is Turkey. Every time something is wrong.” The end. Full stop. There’s always something wrong, so don’t sweat it. 

One hour before the ceremony, when we were less than 1 KM away from the house, the bozos called and told my BIL that the wedding band was ready. So, BIL turned around to go exactly where we had just come from. He drove like a bat outta Hades to get the ring. While MIL and I waited in the car, she turned to me and said, “The box in the bag is yours.” So I opened it and discovered a SIX PIECE lingerie set. Gorgeous white satin. I was flattered, humbled, and then REALLY embarrassed to think about what must have been going through her mind as she picked out the set. I mean…you know. And she’s his MOM. Agggh. Anyway. 

So, I got ready at his parents’ house, and sat on a bed staring at the clock thinking,”30 minutes until I become Mrs. Canim. This is a big deal.” And I started shaking a little and my eyes were welling up with tears, so my darling MIL swooped in with some baklava (I had 3 pieces – sue me) and helped me buckle my shoes because I couldn’t do it myself. 

The Ceremony:
I’m not gonna lie to you guys. The Turkish marriage ceremony is rather…unceremonious. Canim’s father and two best friends walked me into the belediye wedding salon (aka city hall). He was pacing and waiting anxiously for me to arrive. When we saw each other, we hugged and tried really hard not to cry. After taking lots of pictures, everyone left us alone to say our vows to each other (Turkish couples normally don’t do that, as it is assumed that by showing up for the ceremony, you already promise to be the ideal spouse until you die. But I’m American. I like contracts and having things spelled out explicitly and without confusion – plus I thought it would be more romantic than “evet”). We said a slightly tweaked but mostly traditional version of American vows, but I said them in English and he said them in Turkish. Then, we walked upstairs where everyone was waiting. We sat down, the officiant sat down, said a lot of things that I barely understood because I was waiting (and maybe even leaning in very closely) for the question that sounded something like, “[Yabanci Bride], Canim eş olarak kabul ediyor musunuz?” And I said,”EVET!” But I was too eager and she held up the microphone so I could say it again. Then she asked him, he said, “Evet,” she said some more things, we signed some papers, and she left. One of our witnesses pointed to the floor very urgently but I didn’t know what she was saying. Someone else said,”Ayak!” and I remembered to do this: 

Ayak Basmak - Foot Stomping I stomped on his foot to show who's "boss" - but really, he had made no attempt to stomp on mine - so who's really the boss?

Ayak Basmak – Foot Stomping
I stomped on his foot to show who’s “boss” – but he had made no attempt to stomp on mine – so who’s really the boss? 🙂

We switched our rings onto our left hands, had a short and sweet kiss (once on the lips and once on my forehead, which I found so adorable), and then cut the cake. Oh, this was our cake topper: 

International Love Courtesy of Giving Ink on Etsy! https://www.etsy.com/shop/givingINK?ref=l2-shop-info-name

International Love
Courtesy of Giving Ink on Etsy! https://www.etsy.com/shop/givingINK?ref=l2-shop-info-name

After the ceremony, we took pictures in a park along the sea, but it really felt like taking pictures on the surface of the freaking sun. Then, we went back to his parents’ house to freshen up. After that we had dinner at our favorite restaurant which means “Snow White” but has absolutely nothing to do with a princess or dwarves. 

After dinner came the real party – our “mini-moon” at the Hilton. Let me tell you – I’ve never stayed in a Hilton before, and now that I have, I don’t know how I can ever stay in a pansion or even a different 5-star hotel. That place was a piece of American heaven, I tell ya. It was like sleeping on a cloud. We were treated like stars, with far too many free drinks (including a bottle of champagne), impressive room service, and they let us check out several hours later than we were supposed to. It was paradise. 

All in all, every time I think of that day (aka 5 days ago), I can’t help but grin ear-to-ear. I’m glad we didn’t wait. 

Got the ring (mine is obviously on the right) just in time, so I didn't have to foam at the mouth like Bridezilla. Crisis averted.

Got the ring (mine is obviously on the right) just in time, so I didn’t have to foam at the mouth like Bridezilla. Crisis averted.

Brooch bouquet. :)

Brooch bouquet. 🙂


Poppin' bottles

Poppin’ bottles

Work Friendships: Not the Perfect Blendship

Well, I’ve been back in Turkey for 5 days now. Being reunited with Canim has breathed some life back into me. It’s fantastic and we have some SUPER exciting things coming up in the next week (a post about that will follow). 

I have been back at work for 3 days. It’s a little surreal and it’s definitely taking some time to get myself back into full Workey (work in Turkey) mode. I have been “promoted” to team leader for my department. Awesome right? 

No. Not awesome. I mean, I’m thrilled that my boss believes in me enough to have given me the position, and it will be a great learning experience and of course it will look great on my resume. That said, I am also now managing people who: 

1. Are older than me by at least 10 years (some 20).
2. Have been in this line of work longer than I have been. 
3. Have been working with this specific company longer than I have been. 

I think I was a bit of a dark horse during the application process in June (for reasons listed above). Last year was my first year with the company, but it was my second year in Turkey (Workey). I arrived later than the other foreigners because of work visa drama, but I hit the ground running and held my own for the entire year. I didn’t go through the typical culture shock that was expected of many first-year employees because I had already done that in a far less nurturing environment the year before. 

To make it worse, some colleagues had suggested that we have a department vote to choose the new team leader. I pride myself on being a practical person, and I figure out the way things work rather quickly. My boss is a powerful, driven woman. She has clear vision for our company, and if you are not with her, you’re gonna get left in the dust. If you aren’t picking up what she’s putting down, then it’s best to relocate. Basically: if you can’t work with her, move on, because you aren’t gonna change her or the system. That said, I KNEW that a vote would be a complete waste of time, energy, and petty drama because in the end, Boss would pick whoever she wanted anyway. So why bother? 

Well, they had the vote when I was already back in NY. I didn’t even bother to vote. Somehow, I won. 

Two months later, I’m trying to manage people who bring “resistant” to a new level. In Workey, meetings are abundant. That’s just the way it is. So, we have had two team meetings in the last two days. Each time I communicated exactly what Boss said she wants, I was met with resistance, objections, and a 50-year-old woman who was acting more like a 12-year-old girl whose mom bought her a black iPhone instead of a white one and she hated her for it. 

Twice today I overheard colleagues snickering about work they had submitted to me and whether or not I would deign to approve it (but is it my fault if people don’t proofread and catch their mistakes?). Then, in a weekly wrap-up email I had reminded colleagues that we will be doing something that is as natural and obvious as a teacher giving homework, and behind a closed door, after hearing the email receipt chime, I heard,”OMG look at the list of what she expects! Who does she think she is? Who makes these decisions? She didn’t mention this in the meeting – she has to ask us before she makes these choices.” 

 It’s no coincidence that the most resistant person is one who applied for the position, interrupted my interview for the position, and when I was announced as the new leader, sent me a message that said:

“Congratulations 🙂 I wish you well with your new responsibilities. It’s going to be a lot and you will have a very full, if not overloaded, plate. Congrats again!” 

I cannot quit this position, nor do I plan to or think I should, because I am willing to prove myself and I truly do care about the company and I want to do everything in my power to help it thrive. I believe my boss chose me for many reasons, and one of them is definitely my relationship with colleagues. I have a good rapport with them without actually being their friends. It’s hard in Workey because when you meet other foreigners, you may feel temptation/pressure to become “fast friends” with them simply because you have a language or culture or foreignness in common. But that’s not always the best idea, especially when that person is your co-worker. My philosophy is that it’s best to treat my Workey co-workers as I would my co-workers in America. Be kind, friendly, thoughtful, respectful, socialize/fraternize from time to time, but keep the professional boundaries clearly marked. The distance I maintained last year will help me this year, because it is already clear that I am friendly but I am not their homegirl and I can’t be pushed/pressured/bribed into helping people get away with slacking and lacking. 

Still, it is only day 3 and I’m wiped. I’ve got a long year ahead of me! 

“Let Us Love – Let Us Be Loved”

Today is an important day in Turkey and in the Muslim community in general. It is Ramazan Bayramı, or Şeker Bayramı, or Eid al-Fitr (I can only pronounce 2 out of the 3). Today marks the end of Ramazan (Ramadan), or the Islamic holy month of fasting. I have yet to be in Turkey during Ramazan, and I honestly can’t describe what today’s celebrations must have looked, sounded, tasted or smelled like. Maybe next year. 

Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul. The banner says,"Let Us Love" and "Let Us Be Loved".

Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul. The banner says,”Let Us Love” and “Let Us Be Loved”.

Over the last few days, I’ve had a heavy heart because of how much misery and conflict is surrounding my loved ones in that part of the world. Turkey has had a whole lot to say (and excuse me, but a lot of what I’ve read is shameful, embarrassing, and not even factual. Come on guys) about the newest chapter of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I am slightly concerned about what will happen to me personally upon my return, because I know that in addition to rising anti-Semitism, people have taken to lashing out on places like the American consulate near my home. It feels like the news gets more and more grim with each passing day, with no hope for peace or a resolution of any kind. 

I know my opinions and my experiences are as significant as a speck of dust when compared to people who are *actually* struggling over there, but I can’t help feeling frustrated and confused by the hatred that seems to be spewing like an oil spill. 

I’m from New York, which I really do consider to be the capital of the world (sorry, Istanbul). I have friends of pretty much every shape, size, color and creed. If you looked at my Facebook news feed and saw only what my friends share and not what I share, you would have no idea where I stood politically, socially, economically, whatever. I have friends who are very conservative and share Glenn Beck articles — unironically. I have friends who are super duper liberal and probably think I’m backwards and out of touch for believing in Jesus and choosing to change my last name to my fiance’s. I have friends who have shared countless pro-Israel things, and I have friends who have shared heartbreaking news from Palestine. We disagree, sometimes on a lot of things. But we always agree to show each other love and respect. No matter what. Period. 

At the risk of sounding naive and self-involved, why the heck can’t the rest of the world do this too? 

Fear and ignorance have far too much control over us. I took my niece to get her hair blown out the other day (she’s only 3 but I feel it is my duty to spoil and pamper her, however unnecessary the activity may be). Three women at the salon managed to offend me. One woman was raised by an Egyptian woman and a Lebanese man. Her fiance served 8 years in Iraq as a soldier. Naturally, that makes her an expert on Middle Eastern politics, with an emphasis on whatever the heck is going on in Turkey. When it was already too late for me to run out of the salon, she cornered me to lecture me on how Egypt, Iraq and Turkey are pretty much the same and I actually *should* be covering my head with a scarf out of “respect” for the culture.

The woman who washed my hair was of Egyptian descent, and upon seeing my engagement ring said,”Yeah, Turkish men LOVE to marry women who don’t know anything about Turkish culture. They can take advantage. Is your fiance a MUSLIM?!” So I said,”Well, I’ve lived there for two years and my Turkish is at a conversational level. I held my own for a year without his help, despite a helluva lot of adversity. I think I know a bit about the culture.” (I didn’t answer the religion question because my fiance’s faith is between him and God.)

The other idiot told me I had green hair. Do you have a clear idea of the caliber of individuals I was dealing with? 

This is why people need to travel. I know it isn’t always possible, but I believe it is critical to understanding what is happening in the world around us. Before I moved to Turkey, I honestly thought I’d get death threats or something for not being Muslim. I was concerned about having to cover my head. I look back on that and roll my eyes, because I know how silly it is now. If I hadn’t taken the chance and actually EXPERIENCED a different culture and lifestyle, I would probably still be as ignorant as the broad who said my hair was green (just kidding. I couldn’t be that dumb).

If we don’t take the time to experience that which frightens us, we are destined to always fear and hate the “other” at their expense and our own. I wear a crescent and a star pendant around my neck because Turkey is literally and figuratively close to my heart. I will defend Muslims when I hear people making ignorant, hateful generalizations about them. I will defend Jews when I hear people making ignorant, hateful generalizations about them. I have had people question my faith because I show too much “sympathy” towards Muslims. Frankly, that pisses me off. 

If people could stop being so ignorant and fearful, they would see that our similarities greatly outnumber our differences. How about joining forces to create positive change, for once? 

Let us love. Let us be loved. 


The Fireball, the Twitch, and the Persistent Widow

I have been in the States for about 26 days now.

My left eye is twitching and I have had a neck cramp for the last 5 days. It’s to the point that I can no longer turn my head fully in either direction.

The reason I am back in the States for 56 days is to complete grad school, which means completing 100 hours of an internship. You would not believe how difficult it is to complete 100 hours over the course of 56 days (even less weekdays). My university wanted me to do 50 this summer and 50 next summer. I have been fighting their requirement since January, “persistent widow” style*, and only last Friday did they finally decide to let me do it my way. Incidentally, my neck cramp began last Thursday.

My body and my brain are either too connected, or not connected enough. I feel a decent amount of stress, but my brain has suppressed its instincts to be overcome with anxiety, or to randomly cry at inappropriate times. It’s gone into Beast Mode, as though it knows we only have 30 days left and we need to just suck it up and get ‘er done.

But my body has not gotten the memo.
stress eating
I’ve started a new diet, which is actually going very well, but the problem is I am not stress eating like I used to. I mean, it’s great that I’m not stress eating, but my body is like,”HEY! You’re upset/stressed/frustrated/sad. You should totally be eating something salty and maybe oily right now.” But my brain, with its new dedication to healthy choices, says,”NO WAY. Do you know how much money I’ve invested in this new diet plan? Do you not realize we have a wedding coming up?!”


Since I neglected to give my body a healthy way to release the stress, it decided to manifest itself in a throbbing, fiery ball between my neck and my right shoulder. Now that ice, heating pads, Aleve, Advil, Tylenol and Bengay have failed me, I’ve decided to try acupuncture. I am counting down the hours. I have to endure two more work days before I can have someone prick me with needles and holistically nurse me back to good health. I have a LOT to do in these last 30 days, and it can’t get done with my head cocked to the left side (looking normal and attractive is included in my list of “a LOT to do”).

Things coming up:
– Finish internship. Finally show grad school who’s boss.
– Sara Bareilles concert (yaaaassssss!)
– A childhood friend’s wedding (I’m a bridesmaid).
– A friend’s vow renewal (I’m just a happy guest).
– Selecting and ordering wedding favors for the January 2015 Turkey wedding and further planning for the July 2015 US reception.
– Bracing myself to begin the paperwork process for getting hitched in Turkey. Canim and I have a few tricks up our sleeves.

Just looking at this list reminds me of how very expensive the next month will be. Ohhh, I think I just felt my neck-shoulder fireball tighten.

Breathe in, breathe out. Goosfraba. Only 30 days until I am back in Canim’s arms.

*The “persistent widow” is a reference to a parable Jesus used to teach His disciples the importance of being persistent in prayer and never losing hope. When I’m frustrated with the system and I feel like plopping down on the ground, banging my fists and pouting like a toddler, I try to remember this parable. 

Missing Things: Why I Wept in FedEx

I’ve been back in the States for almost 2 weeks now. Canim’s birthday is next week, and I am feeling like a lousy fiance for being away from him for the second birthday in a row, especially because he made my birthday so special this year and last year.

To be fair, I had given him a pretty awesome early birthday present in May, but that’s not the same as opening a present on your real birthday. Of course, birthdays don’t seem to be a big deal in Turkey, or at least not as big as they are here. But his birthday is a big deal to me.

So, I have experience shipping things to Turkey via FedEx. Each time, they told me it would take 3 days to arrive. Today, the FedEx employee told me it would take 3 days for Canim’s gift to arrive. Perfect! It would arrive early, even factoring in tomorrow’s holiday (Independence Day).

After it took me about ten minutes to figure out the freaking zip code for Canim’s office (I feel like the Turkish postal service delivers more efficiently to businesses than homes), I finally filled out the form and prepared to pay through the nose for shipping.

FedEx Man: “Okay the total comes to [one arm, one leg, and your firstborn child], and it is all set to arrive on Thursday, July 10th.”

Me: [cue the screechy “Psycho” sound in the background] “THURSDAY? No no. It must get there by Wednesday afternoon, the absolute latest. And Wednesday afternoon THEIR time. How much is it to expedite it?”

FedEx Man: “Sorry. That’s as fast as we can send it. The only other option is to go to JFK airport and try to get it to the FedEx terminal…”

Me: [no words. Just lots and lots of tears, sniffling, maybe even some whimpering] “But his birthday is on Wednesday and I thought it would only take 3 days…”

FedEx Man: “Umm…oh wait! Maybe I can get it there on Tues– nope. Sorry. Just Thursday.”

I don’t even remember paying or signing the receipt. I left with my face in my hands and I stood outside sobbing (did I really need to do that?) and I immediately messaged Canim to spoil the birthday surprise and let him know that I am a crappy fiance who can’t even reciprocate thoughtfulness and careful planning.

Of course, he was gracious and didn’t even understand why I bought him more presents. He cheered me up, but I still cried on the way home.

So why am I telling you this? Because if you’re following my blog, you have some kind of interest in the details of international relationships, and this is an aspect of it that is so unromantic and sucky.

To maintain an “international relationship”, you have to forfeit a lot of things that other people get to enjoy regularly. You miss things. Birthdays, holidays, milestones. If you’re not missing your spouse’s events, you’re missing your niece’s first day of preschool, her triumph over potty training, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving…you’ll always be missing something, somewhere. But that is a choice that we all have to make.

Ultimately, when my heart breaks into a million pieces, as it does from time to time when I have to miss things, I ask myself,”Would I trade my relationship with Canim in exchange for not missing these things?” The answer is always,”No, I wouldn’t. And stop asking yourself that stupid question!”

“International relationships” (can we think of a better term??) are romantic and adventurous, but when we choose to take them on, we also choose to take on hardship. The key is to figure out (sooner rather than later) if you’d be willing to exchange that hardship for a life without the other person.

When the relationship is right, the answer ought to be a resounding “no”.


“The World On Time…or the day after!”

Wedding Nightmare

I have been back in the States for five days. I’m doing pretty well with my separation from Canim, although it does hurt to think that I have more than 50 days to go until I see him again.

Last night, I had a wedding nightmare for the first time in about 3 months (I’ve been engaged for 5 months). I dreamed that we were at our NY wedding, but I was wearing a hideous blue strapless gown because everyone told me I had to wear it as my “something blue”. The wedding was poorly organized, guests were bored, everyone was more interested in their phones, and Canim hid from sight because he was so uncomfortable. When I found him, we literally ran away. We ran right past the pit bulls (why the HECK were there pit bulls at my wedding???).

I woke up with an eye twitch, and 12 hours later, it is still twitching. I am under quite a bit of stress right now, and I’m definitely having a whole lot of feelings to deal with. I am not in the mood.

I’ve tried to immerse myself in wedding planning to get myself excited about having two weddings, when in reality, as you already know, I am Anti-Bride and I just can’t get excited about anything other than spending the rest of my life with Canim. Floral arrangements and mason jars do nothing for me. I’ve made an honest effort, but I am just not really Pinterested.

I’ve stumbled upon this little gem, known as the “Bride’s Manifesto”. It really does soothe me to read it, although people may not want me to read it too often, lest I go ahead and break every wedding rule and, you know, stay true to myself and my ideas for a dream wedding. I feel like I am planning a wedding (or two) for other people, when really, I just want the marriage certificate and that’s it. That’s it!

Canim has tried to ease my stress from thousands of miles away, bless his heart. It’s nice to be with someone who truly believes that no matter what, everything will be okay. I already know what I’m going to do after I finish this post. I’m going to watch the Sex and the City movie for no reason other than to see last 5 minutes of the movie. I know it’s not real, and I know I am not Carrie Bradshaw, but man, those last 5 minutes make me SO HAPPY. Whatever it takes, right?


The Silver Lining, or Her İşte Bir Hayır Vardır

It’s been almost one week since I learned the wedding of my dreams (that is, the wedding I managed to dream after conceding that I will never actually be able to elope) would not be possible. If you don’t feel like scrolling down and learning why we have to reassess the situation, it’s because Venue 1 (a restaurant) has very shady people organizing their events and Canim and I refuse to give them another lira, let alone the extra 2,000 lira their “changes” were going to cost us.

Since that disappointment, we have checked out a 5-star hotel (Venue 2) where Canim’s friend is the accounting manager. Long story short, she is helping us to plan a wedding that will be even more dreamlike than the one I had planned at Venue 1.

I felt relieved after meeting with her, and while Canim was driving me home, he taught me a new Turkish proverb: “Her işte bir hayır vardır.”

Okay, I don’t know what the exact translation is, but in a nutshell, it means every cloud has its silver lining. For every “no”, there is a “yes” nearby. That sort of thing.

The next day, I arrived at work and my co-worker asked me if I planned to attend our company’s summer kick-off party. I told him my department hadn’t received any email from the head boss, so he gave me the details. The party is going to be held next Tuesday, AT VENUE 1!!!!!!!!!! In typical dramatic YabanciBride fashion, I gasped, clutched my chest and said,”Mike – it can’t be THERE! That’s the place where I was going to have my wedding! Now I have to go BACK there? WITH CANIM?!” I won’t lie, it took about an hour for me to stop being so genuinely ticked off. How can my office coordinate an event with those people? And to think of all the MONEY they gave them!!!!

Then it hit me – the silver lining. The “her işte bir hayır vardır“. I have been in the dining room of Venue 1 while weddings were in progress. The decorations are standard for weddings, give or take a candelabra or two. No doubt, the menus are too. So, if I were to have my wedding there, almost half of the guests (my co-workers) would have a “been there, kinda done that” experience. It would be awkward. A little embarrassing, even.

And besides, what is a little restaurant when compared to our Venue 2?

Canim agreed to attend the event with me, but has plans to speak with the manager to let him know how unprofessional his event planners are. Fine by me! Remember that scene in Pretty Woman when the snobby salesgirls wouldn’t help Julia Roberts because she was dressed like a hooker, but then she goes back a few days later dressed like a debutante and she gets the last laugh? That’s me right now.

Big mistake, Venue 1. Big. Huge!