The In-Laws and the Sunburn

This past weekend was the last of the many long weekends I have enjoyed this year. To kick it off, Canim and I took his mother (and father) out to dinner for Mother’s Day. We celebrated a bit later because they had been visiting her family in the Black Sea region for the last two or three weeks. 

We took them to the restaurant where we will be having our wedding. They liked it, but I could tell they thought the food was overpriced, especially because Anneciğim could obviously prepare an equally if not more delicious meal and we would not even have to pay her in anything other than hugs and kisses. It just so happened there was a wedding reception taking place that night. I asked to stay a bit longer just to see the bride make her entrance. Well, it was after 8 p.m. when we left and she still hadn’t made her entrance. I would have stayed until 9, but everyone else was ready to go. 

Anneciğim and I admired the guests’ outfits as they walked the runway-like bridge (yes, there’s a BRIDGE!) into the reception hall. Canim kept his back to them, and whenever I nudged him to look at the dresses, he would shrug and say,”I don’t see anything. What, is that a woman? A man? An animal? It’s all the same to me. I don’t see anything.” Am I marrying a smart man, or what? 🙂 

It was a nice dinner, and it warmed my heart to treat them to a nice night out, because they both really deserve it and probably wouldn’t treat themselves to something like that if we hadn’t invited them. 

The next day, Canim and I headed out to spend some time being lazy on the beach. Now, I keep a tote bag packed with picnic/beach materials in the event that we decide to be spontaneous and venture outdoors. The tote usually contains bug spray, sunscreen, wipes, and tissues. I add more items to the bag depending on where we are going, but the items I listed are staples. They can’t melt or spoil, so there’s no reason they should ever be removed from the bag. 

And yet, my big (expensive) bottle of Neutrogena sunscreen has gone missing. I was left with two travel-sized tubes of sunscreen, which, let’s face it, are only good for one beach session, if that. I searched and searched, but I couldn’t find the big bottle. So, when we made it to the beach, being the sacrificial woman that I am, I let Canim use the majority of the sunscreen, and I insisted that I wouldn’t need to use much, except for on my shoulders*. For the record, he did argue with me a bit over it, but I “won” and by “won” I mean he gave up and I burned to a crisp. The one thing he absolutely insisted that I do was rub an ice cube on my head. 

That’s right. Rub an ice cube on my head. I’ve never done that before in my life, but we had more ice than sunscreen, so I rubbed it on my head to appease him. I didn’t ask him to cite his scientific sources, but whatever protection it was supposed to provide must have worked, because the only place that isn’t crispy is my scalp. 

The beach was beautiful and quiet, and I swam like a fish. There’s just something so captivating about the Mediterranean. I’ve lived here for over a year, but I hadn’t really had a good swim in the sea since I was in Italy in 2008. Well, I guess I got carried away, and today at work everyone looked at me with a mixture of pity and amusement. More of the latter, but whatever. 

On the way home, I spotted a small field of red poppies, or gelincik flowers. I am *OBSESSED* with those flowers, and I don’t really know why. It could be because their bold, beautiful red color reminds me of the perfect shade of red lipstick. It could be because they always look so warm and cheerful even though they randomly grow among weeds on land that is uncared for. I don’t exactly know what the appeal is, but whenever Canim and I drive near green areas, we always make a point to keep an eye out for the gelincik. I was so happy that he thought nothing of stopping, turning around and driving 2 km in the opposite direction just to loop around AGAIN to stop and take pictures of the flowers. Am I marrying a great man, or what? 🙂 

I’ve been applying Garnier “After Sun” lotion on a regular basis, but I can feel my face starting to get tight, which means I’m going to start peeling soon. Dear Lord. That will be hideous. 

If anyone has any remedies or ways to prevent peeling, I would be glad to try them! 
And please, do NOT say the best way to prevent peeling is to wear sunscreen, because that ship has sailed. 🙂 

*I would like to add that while I did manage to apply sunscreen to my shoulders, the burn is the worst ON MY SHOULDERS. Go figure. 



Image

Hellboy: this is what Canim says I look like now.

Image

Gelincik!

Image

This view would cost a LOT more in Italy. 😉

A Matter of Life and Death

Image The last day and a half has been very interesting here in Turkey. As I have been waiting very impatiently for my friend’s baby to enter the world, hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been grieving the loss (or the potential loss) of loved ones in Soma, Manisa. Soma is a mining town, and there was a major explosion in one of the mines there yesterday afternoon. Hundreds of miners were trapped. Many escaped, but so many remained inside and still have yet to emerge. The situation is very grim, and authorities have said that by now, anyone who is still down there will not emerge alive. 

I don’t know why, but this tragedy is affecting me very deeply. Of course, it’s tragic and if a person doesn’t feel some sort of sympathy for the victims, they are heartless individuals. But it has brought me to tears several times today, and I feel sick if I read or hear anything about it in the news. 

So…why am I writing about it? I don’t know, really. Maybe for catharsis? I have been thinking about life and death a lot lately. Perhaps I have been thinking about it because I know a new chapter of my life is about to start, and it’s a really, really big deal. Marriage has always been something I’ve talked about as happening “one day” in the distant future, but now, I know exactly which day it will happen. It’s a major change in my life, and I guess my morbid brain realized that as I mark more milestones, it’s like I’m losing my invincibility and I’m becoming more aware of my mortality. 

The other thing is in recent months, my heart has been doing this weird thing where it has started to love another human being more than it loves myself (that sentence structure was awkward, but I hope you get what I mean). I’m sure it’s just a glimpse of what it’s like to love with a mother’s heart. I care, but I do not worry about my own safety or well-being. However, I find myself getting choked up and teary-eyed when I learn of anyone, even fictional characters, losing a loved one, because I immediately imagine how I would feel if I lost Canim. I should perish the thought, really, but it’s hard sometimes. I sometimes have random thoughts of all the possible dangers that are lurking near him, and I have to force myself to think of other things or else I will become a basket case. 

I know, it’s kind of stupid. He’s perfectly fine, perfectly healthy, and I have nothing to worry about. When I see pictures of the family members waiting outside of the mine, hoping against hope that their men will come out alive, it devastates me. They’re enduring the very thing that I’m too afraid to even imagine for more than a few nervous seconds. They are in my prayers, because it will take an act of God to comfort all of those people in the midst of this tragedy. 

At the height of my emotional reaction to the mine explosion, I learned that my dear friends in Antalya (American) welcomed their first baby into the world this afternoon. If she had taken any longer to arrive, I would have suggested that they name her Glacier (Buzul in Turkish), because homegirl was taking her sweet time to be born. Fortunately for her, she arrived in time to receive the original name her parents had picked for her, and it is a beautiful name. 

ImageAnd this is how it goes, right? We go about life, doing mundane day-to-day tasks, until suddenly, our lives change radically, for better or for worse. We have, we lose, we grieve, but life goes on, and we have to go on too, because eventually we will have again, and those moments of “having” really ought to be cherished to the fullest.

God, I wish I could hug my loved ones tonight and let them know how much they mean to me. 

Anger Management

As you may know, Canim thinks I’m as close to perfect as a human can possibly be. Bless his heart. But, there is one quality of mine that he is not jazzed about.

You see, anger is like a volcano. We all have a little volcano within us. It can be extremely dangerous and cause irreparable damage, but only if it erupts. A volcano can be active, dormant, or extinct. I don’t think anyone can say their anger is extinct, but once upon a time, my anger was largely dormant, as I believe is true for most people; that means it’s not currently erupting, but is likely to in the future. Lately, I’ve been a more active volcano. Not Vesuvius level, but you can definitely see some smoke rising more and more often. Image
What’s the source of my anger? Many things, but they all stem from the same place: stupidity. Okay, fine, that’s not a nice word. Thoughtlessness. Thoughtless behavior. My job requires me to interact with at least 50+ people per day. They are usually the same people with minor variations from time to time. When you interact with so many people so frequently, thoughtless behavior is more common than if you were holed up behind a cubicle for 40 hours a week.

Canim doesn’t love that my volcano has been so active lately. He always finds a gentle, calm, and loving way to tell me to CHILL THE HECK OUT. He says,”Please, darling. Don’t be quickly angry.” It’s really very sweet and I’m amazed by his patience. What he doesn’t understand is that most of the time, I go through a “calming” process in my brain and I try my darndest not to lose my cool. But while I’m trying to think happy thoughts and breathe deeply, the thoughtless person is busy doing more thoughtless things to make smoke come out of my ears. And then I erupt. But to people who are not living in my brain, I look like a hot-head because I go from 0 to 60 in the blink of a thoughtless eye.

The turning point for me was yesterday afternoon. After months of hearing comments from Canim and my work BFF about controlling my anger (which of course only I can do, but um, can people also provoke me a little less??), I finally came to a revelation:

Stupidity makes me angry. People will never stop being stupid, but I can’t always be angry. I can’t change them, but I can change how I respond to their stupidity thoughtlessness.  

Who can I thank for this revelation? Two thoughtless people who provoked the heck out of me yesterday.1) The “company” I work for has many clients. Yesterday, one client had clearly violated my company’s policy. The client had two warnings to stop violating the policy, and the third time the client brazenly disregarded the policy, I took action (and after reviewing the company’s policy, I realized I was actually very lenient and I could have done more, but I didn’t see the need). The client’s head manager then confronted me (read: blindsided me like WHOA), but in Turkish. I understood most of what she was saying (read: shouting), but when I tried to answer her questions and explain why I was correct, she yelled over me,”ANLAMADIM” (“I don’t understand!). Well. If you’re going to yell at me (in front of colleagues and other clients) in your language and you expect me to understand you but I am not allowed to defend myself in my language, then this is an unfair fight, isn’t it? She walked away, I shouted,”SORRY!” louder than I probably should have, and slammed the door (also definitely louder than I should have).

Needless to say, I was shaken and I went home feeling awful. AW-FUL. So, I went to the market to buy some things for dinner, and Thoughtless #2 showed up.

2) I have a neighbor who is really particular about not letting the site gate slam shut. She’s on the ground floor and has a young child, so I get it. It’s annoying. But you know what? It’s an iron gate. It was not designed to shut quietly. Months ago, I introduced myself to her and I was smiling and trying to speak as much Turkish as possible. Not only did she not say hello or introduce herself, but she scowled at me and only said,”Close the gate quietly.” MMMK. I found her to be incredibly rude, but I honored her request.

I honored that request FOR MONTHS. Until yesterday. Picture it: I have an open umbrella, my wallet, and my keys in one hand. I have four shopping bags dangling off of each arm, and I’m trying to get through the gate *quietly* at 4 p.m. Well, I failed, okay? It slammed behind me. I winced and issued an apology to the air. Suddenly I heard someone banging their hands on the window of her apartment. I stopped to check it out, and I only saw a moving curtain. So, I walked up the stairs to enter my building and I heard her door open (she lives in the building across from mine). Wouldn’t you know, she was standing in the doorway with her hand on her hip?!?! I was doing gymnastics trying to open my door without dropping everything in my hands, only to see her standing in that pose. So I opened my door, let all of my things drop to the ground, and I put MY hands on MY hips because GIRRRRRRRL you cannot out-attitude a Puerto Rican. You just simply cannot. She walked away and didn’t say anything. THAT’S RIGHT. 

After several minutes of deep breathing and imagining Canim’s voice saying,”Darling, please don’t be quickly angry,” I had my revelation (stupid people won’t change). Then I thought of my friend in the States who has been dealing with a LOT of hard stuff this year. She told me she had arranged a small corner of her room to be her prayer nook. It’s just a simple space to unwind, center your thoughts, and call on a Higher Power for some guidance. I was inspired to put my own nook together earlier in the week, but hadn’t actually used it. So, I figured I’d give it a shot.

I found tons of things to pray about. Mainly, my anger and the way it doesn’t accomplish much other than taking me away from all that is good. So, I asked Him to forgive me and to help me to be gracious when I want to be explosive. Being gracious (in this sense) means that even when people do something wrong and act like complete idiots, I need to be patient and kind in my reaction (unless it’s a case of righteous anger which is completely different). Why do I have to do that? Because I do stupid things all the time. I do mindless, THOUGHTLESS things that I don’t even realize frustrate and hurt other people. But most of them are gracious to me. And God is gracious to me. So, grace in, grace out. I receive it, so I’d better figure out how to dish it out!
Image 
Here’s my prayer nook. The mat was given to me by some colleagues last year (not the same religion, but we value prayer just the same), a candle, some matches, a Bible, and a book of daily devotions. It’s simple, and I love it. I used it this morning when I happened to wake up just before the call to prayer at 4 am. Again, not the same religion, but the need for frequent prayer is the same.

Proverbs 14:29: Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

In Sickness and in Health

In my last post, I mentioned how in a brief moment of silly superstitiousness, I blamed myself for Canim feeling sick. It was my fault because I brag about him too much, I share too many cutsie pictures of us on Facebook and Instagram, and I gush about him every chance I get. All of the gushing (according to superstition) conjured the nazar and made him sick.

Well! I’m not sure what this means, but I am now sick, too! It turns out that even though he was being a bit theatrical, he was, in fact, sick. Our symptoms are almost identical, only mine are a little bit worse. Of course!

While I can’t say that the “evil eye” is the reason we both got sick, I do still think it was my fault. Here’s why:

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling sluggish, irritable, and a bit queasy. I’m not a morning person, so I didn’t think much of it. My body is often repulsed by the idea of having to wake up at 6:30 in the morning. But yesterday morning was different. As a result of 1 week of eating almost nothing but fruits and vegetables, and I mean LOTS of vegetables, I have been in the habit of having 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, and a little üçgen peynir spread on a cracker for breakfast. Anyway, yesterday’s cucumber left something to be desired, so I ate 3 small tomatoes and a few crackers instead. That’s when I knew something was wrong. My stomach felt so strange, I couldn’t even drink tea. Every cup of water I attempted to drink tasted bitter and dirty.

Stomach cramps abounded, and then I skipped lunch. I never skip lunch. It is what gets me through the day. Actually, no. Lunch doesn’t get me through the day. My post-lunch Turkish coffee gets me through the day, and I couldn’t even have that. When I refused that AND I refused a vanilla cappuccino, my work BFF gasped, plopped down in her chair and said,”Allah Allah, you really ARE sick!” She blamed the nazar, because we know a few people who may be casting it my way, which amused me in the midst of my turmoil.
ImageI made it through the work day and hurried home. I appreciate the way my sickness waited for me to be in the privacy of my own home before unleashing its fury on me.

Like the dutiful (pun sort of intended) fiance that he is, Canim came to check on me and reciprocate the TLC I had given him when he was sick. We tried to figure out the source of our sickness. We figure it could be one or all of the following: the absurd fruit and veggie diet, the copious amounts of organic dried apricots we’ve both been eating, and/or my tendency to walk around without wearing layers and I sometimes tiptoe around the house barefoot (if my slippers somehow manage to be inconveniently out of reach).

Personally, I think choice 1 and choice 2 joined forces to create the perfect storms in our stomachs. Dried apricots can MESS.YOU. UP. if you overindulge. Who knew? Now  I know that dried apricots and chickpeas (that’s a story for another day) are two delicious, “healthy” things that secretly want to kill me. Choice 3 is entirely Turkish, and I have to be as receptive as possible to the local scientific hypothesis that not wearing layers when it’s 80+ degrees out will make you suffer all kinds of maladies. The whole wearing slippers thing has definitely become a part of my second nature, but sometimes, I deviate back to my American mentality that being barefoot in the house won’t kill you. However, I try to be sensitive about wearing my slippers as often as possible when I’m around Canim, because I don’t want him to worry that my lack-of-slippers will cause problems for us when we try to have children in the future (maşallah, tug your ear, pucker your lips and knock on wood!).

So yeah, this probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my idea for us to try the extreme diet. The dried apricots were actually his choice, but we only bought them because we went to Carrefour one day *just* to buy fresh mint leaves for one of my detoxtails, and ended up realizing we were starving, so we bought every “healthy” food item in sight. 🙂

Editor’s Note: When discussing illness in Turkey, be careful not to say “sick” too much, as it sounds just like the Turkish f-bomb. You can say “ill” when talking to an English-speaker, or just say “hasta” because it means “sick” in Turkish, and it’s easy to say.

Also, anyone notice how I managed to do three product placements in one picture? #talent

-YB

A Tale of Two Cities: Turkey and the Big Apple

The last time I tried to respond to a daily prompt, it went awry and I have been too bitter to attempt it again. However, today’s daily prompt is tempting bait, and I’m biting. 

Prompt: If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?

Answer: I would split my time evenly between New York and Turkey. I already do split my time between the two places, but I’d like to split it evenly. And, if I can add a demand to this wish, I would need to bring my fiance along with me every time. In a perfect world, Istanbul’s land bridge wouldn’t connect Asia and Europe, but Asia and America. I only choose the Asian part because that’s where I live and I’m quite happy here. It would be a dream to be able to go back and forth between both places without having to endure 18+ hours of travel, sweat, close quarters, and all of the other factors that turn me into quite the misanthropist whenever I have to go back to either country. 

So, I guess what I’m saying is I would split my time evenly between New York and Turkey, with my fiance at all times, and in some sort of machine that can travel at least 10 times faster than an airplane. Preferably with better bathrooms, too. 

I expect many yabanci brides to respond to this daily prompt, at least internally. 🙂 

Image
ImageYB

May God Protect You From the Evil Eye

It’s Sunday evening and I feel a case of the Mondays creeping up on me. I haven’t had a full week of work in over two weeks. I’ve grown accustomed to spending my abundant holidays with Canim, relaxing in the sun, reading, eating delicious food, and enjoying a whole lot of nothing. I had planned to blog about my fantastic weekend (which included a delicious dinner that brought an end to our diet, a lovely trip to the zoo, a triumphant trip to the bookstore, a village breakfast and a quaint afternoon spent on our friends’ farm), but then something happened to make me put all of my focus on Canim. He began the day feeling a little funny, and by the early evening, he was barely able to walk because he was experiencing severe pains.

Aside from being concerned about his welfare, and aside from coming up with every possible idea to make him more comfortable (I nearly broke my face after slipping on a rug while running to him with a steaming hot towel in my hands), a thought that had been floating around in the back of my mind managed to inch its way up to the front of my mind: I brag about my fiance too much. It’s not like I can really help it. He is absolutely worth bragging about. He is handsome, clever, hard-working, creative, charming, sweet, thoughtful, funny, effortlessly adorable, and he seems to draw energy from doting on me and showering me with love and affection. I sing his praises without even realizing it. I know I look like a teenager in puppy love whenever I hear his name, or see his picture, or get a message from him on my phone. I can’t control it and I don’t really try to, because dangit, I am in love with that man and I’ve waited my whole life to find him.

I think I’ve been in Turkey too long, because I find myself  thinking, albeit very briefly, about the “nazar” whenever something both unexpected and unfortunate happens. I am not a superstitious person, but I am a spiritual person and I do believe in the supernatural, to a point. I believe in God and all of His goodness, which would not be so evident if it were not for the abundant evil in the world. He (God still) is the light in the darkness. So, I do believe that evil thoughts can bring about evil things. The entire country seems to believe the same thing, as the blue boncuk eyes are EVERYWHERE you turn in Turkey. The boncuk is supposed to ward off the nazar, or the evil eye, which can be cast at unsuspecting people in many ways and for many reasons.
Image
Your child is really cute? WATCH OUT. If too many people compliment the child, the evil eye may be lurking.
New car? Surely someone out there will feel a pang of envy and may unintentionally (or totally intentionally) send an evil eye your way.
Flattering new haircut? New shoes? Nice manicure? Beware, beware, beware!
Do you have an extraordinary fiance who you still can’t believe is real? You’d better tie a big blue bead around his neck and say “Masha’Allah” every chance you get. And be careful about sharing too many pictures on Facebook and Instagram of the two of you frolicking merrily through a field of daisies — that’ll conjure the evil eye as well.

As a result of the ever-present danger of the evil eye, the solution (it seems) is to attach the blue beads to all valued objects (or people). Fortunately, merchants have figured out a way to help people fight off the evil eye with countless blue-eyed products readily available wherever you go. Literally. They are everywhere.
ImageWhen I first came here, several foreigners I encountered adamantly opposed the blue beads. I understood why. My faith opposes using man-made objects to protect us from supernatural forces. Only our faith in God can do that. I think Muslims are supposed to follow a similar rule, but of course, it can be hard to distinguish religious practices from uniquely Turkish practices. The lines often blur. In my year and a half in Turkey, I have received about a dozen trinkets with the blue eye on it. I always felt strange accepting the gifts. Is it rude if I literally never use the gifts? Should I even accept them? Would I make God angry for accepting them? And besides, those blue earrings were really pretty.

Personally, I think it’s up to each person to decide. I don’t believe the blue eye has any power to protect me, just like I don’t believe a cross has any power to protect me, and I don’t believe a shamrock, horseshoe, or poor rabbit’s foot will bring me good luck. Those are all just trinkets and symbols, and symbols only have as much power as a person is willing to give them. Only my faith in God can protect me (and now us) from evil things. However, the boncuk gifts were given to me with love, from people whose friendship I cherish. Their intentions were good. So, I accept the gifts, and use them as a reminder to thank God for all of the blessings in my life, and to ask for Him to protect me and my loved ones from anything wishing us harm.

Allah sizi nazarlardan korusun. (May God protect you from the evil eye.)

– YB