Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Today is a day of celebrating. With flags, singing and walking hand in hand.

I wish I could tell my children that they do not need to fear tomorrow, that we could go out and celebrate together. Yet, they will go to school tomorrow, their school bus avoiding "trouble" spots, and I will not drive anywhere.

Happy International Workers Day to all. Dad, can you be a guest writer and tell us about that fateful day in 1977?

How ironic and hypocritical of me, right? At least my heart is in the right place.

And here's my dad's story, as posted on the comments section, but I will paste it here as well:

Dad, as guest writer, remembers May Day 1977:

We marched from Dolmabahce to Taksim under the banner of University Teachers' Association. Although I was a member of the Turkish Workers' Party, we had been asked to join our professional associations during the march. When we arrived at Taksim Square there was already more than 100,000 people there; mostly workers and university students. More people marched in until there was hardly any space left.

It was the second "legal" celebration of May Day since the early 1930's. We were very happy, chanting slogans, singing, etc. At about 4 PM, when that enormous crowd started to disperse, we heard gunshots and all hell broke loose. (Later it was claimed, but never proved, that the shots were fired from the 6th floor of Hotel Intercontinental ).

Inci and I were caught in the middle of the gunfire. I could see bullets hitting the ground next to our feet. Inci was so petrified with terror that she could hardly move. I realized that if we could not get out of the target area we would be shot soon. I pushed her towards the iron fence of the park in the middle of the square. She didn't move, she was in shock. I lifted her and jumped over the fence. I put her down and covered her body with mine. I could still see the bullets hitting people right and left. 10 meters away, a police panzer ran over a woman and I saw her bones sticking up from her wounds where the vehicle's tires passed. We stayed there about 20 minutes until the gunfire stopped then crawled away to the relative safety of a building's entrance. We took the late night train to Ankara. Inci was still in shock.

37 people were killed that day. We remember them as victims of a senseless and cruel plot to subdue the working people of our country.

May 1, 2008 8:47 PM

Monday, April 28, 2008

Home Thumb.

You know people who have "green thumbs?" Those who make every plant they touch flourish and bloom no matter the season? I have friends who have "home" thumbs. I call them at any given day and they tell me things like "oh, I was just putting glitter on these candles that I just made" or "well, the curtains were getting dull so I am sewing some beads in them."

I just want to hang up and cry.

The other day, worried that I am still very very unhappy for some reason, Burak was trying to cheer me up while providing feedback and some mentoring on what I should "do." Like, a career. Or a hobby. Anything to keep the woman from just spending money! I am 34 and if I am still wondering what I'm going to be when I grow up (!) something has gone awry.

I am going to tie these two very distinct thoughts together at some point. Really.

Anyways, as I was telling Burak how I love just sitting on the wheel, feeling the mud take shape beneath my fingers in that slimy yet satisfying (ok, who know where that line's from?) and immensely quenching way, he asked me whether I was any good at it.

The reason why I don't bring my beautiful pots and plates and vases and bowls home, the reason why often I don't even fire them, is because I believe that I really am not that good at it. I probably could be. Maybe. Someday. But never good enough to be able to say "well, I've grown up and I'm a potter now." I can spend hours just sitting on the wheel, not even making a shape, just watching and feeling the mud.

Anyways. Back to friends with home thumbs. I wish I could be like that. Take a project from my many bookmarked home & design blogs and ideas and follow through and the next time my home thumbed friend calls, I can tell her, "well the bedspreads were boring so I am weaving new ones." Ha! At your face! (I'm just jealous, that's all).

Take quilting for example. The blocks and the patterns have names, there is a whole industry on quilt making. What makes a simple quilt art? (Oooh the blog is getting more intellectual by the minute - what happened to the posts where I wrote about who pooped green today?).

If I were to make a quilt, I would want it to look like Dorothy Caldwell's:
The utilitarian side of anything is simple - what makes her quilts art is the nonconformist way of expressing the story while leaving you with awe (and the 10,000$ price tag).

Out with the wheel, come to mama needles and sewing machines! I'm getting me a new hobby!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Breaking All The Rules

As I was reading CoolBroad's "10 Things Not to talk about at a cocktail party " I realized I have basically broke all the rules while we were having dinner with some friends last night. Wonder whether they'll ever call again!
  1. Politics; When a friend spoke of checking the eyesight of a famous politician, I immediately had to say "you should have punched him in the eye right there." Hm.
  2. Religion; "I had not one way of explaining to my child what my religion was, I only said to him that he will figure that out for himself and I'd be more than happy to provide him with necessary information during the process. When he's older, like, 13."
  3. How gifted and talented your kid is; OK guilty as charged - "why, he DID learn how to ride the bike in just a day." Extra credit: "the guitar lessons have worked wonders on him - he can strum to tunes now." Liar. Bad lying mama!
  4. How much you just paid for something; "The new bike? We paid x liras." Yours was?" We paid 6 times as much. But I sorta eased out of the situation by stating that ours also flies. Eeek.
  5. Someone else; I think I passed on that. One point for the good etiquette.
  6. Taxes and Death; Death was talked about. I didn't bring it up but told of how the kids' school handled the death of a student.
  7. Your kids (excessively); But that's what we have in common!
  8. Your pets (excessively); Passed on that as well. Though the lobster issue did come up once.
  9. Your uber-cool job (excessively); Ha! I can never ever talk about that because as you all know, I don't have a job. If mothering counts, take off the points my friend!
  10. How much you dislike something; Had to talk about my (non) experiences with cooking and being a "housewife" in general. That's a part of my character. No points deducted (in my opinion).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day.

Tomorrow is National Children's Day in Turkey.

Today is Earth Day. Not in Turkey. At least I don't think so.

So, in honor of earth day, I decided to write all the "green" things we do around our home, thanks to last week's "hump day" suggestion by Julie Pippert.

We don't recycle. There are people who sort the trash out in big containers, take out the recyclable stuff and sell them, so no need for that. I don't want to hamper someone else's livelihood. This is not my usual "I am shallow" confession, I truly believe that there is an actual market for container pickers. We do have a recycle bin a few blocks from where we live for glass and plastic containers, and I have been planning on using that for some time now. It could be a good plan to follow weekly, and the boys would learn to be responsible for the environment, yes. I know my brother recycles, I have no idea how, but I shall ask. We used to when we lived in the US, and we meticulously followed the green trash bag - red trash bag - or whatever color trash bag sorting rules. There is no such thing here in İstanbul. People actually hurl their trash from balconies in my apartment. Really. I have nice memories of picking fights with them.

We turn off the lights when not in use, does that count?

We turn off the faucets when brushing teeth, and conserve water by using well (you know, well?) water for the lawn (which is littered with my obnoxious neighbors' trash anyways). Oh, and I haven't gotten the car washed in 11 months. That's a bit of laziness as well. But more to conserve water.

What else.

We encourage the boys to paint on the back of used papers and printouts (they usually do not mind). Our fridge and washing machine are energy efficient (though I do not whether that means I pay less for electricity or.. or what?). We "air dry" our laundry. We don't throw bottles in the ocean (believe me, take a walk by the seaside where I live, and you are bound to run into a minimum of 5 people chucking beer/water/soda bottles in the water - we try not to shoot them with bb guns).

We support TEMA - The Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (my goodness that took forever to type!) by planting trees instead of sending holiday gifts to business associates (I know, not very original, but TLs spent for a good cause).

Short list. But at least not as puny as I thought it would be.

Merry National Children's Day. And a happy Earth Day as well.

Edit: After reading "50 Ways to Help the Planet" I realized we do 34 of the 50 suggestions. Yey.

Once Upon a Time in New York

I must have written about New York. I should have.

While cruising, from page to page, I came across Bryant Park's website tonight. The same park where my first son went to for his first "outing" when he was 6 days old and took his first steps when he was 11 months old. The same park we listened to a good friend of ours play Paganini's Variations, in shorts, just a few days before his debut at the New York Philharmonic, then a few months later, listened to Sarah MacLaughlin rehearse the night before her concert, just for us. The same park that I walked through at all hours of the night coming home from the Grace Building (because I worked right across the street from where I lived, you don't get that lucky anywhere in the world). The same park with incredible views from our first -and only- apartment we owned.

See where it says 32 West 40th Street? That's the Engineer's Building. That's where we used to live.
I miss New York so much sometimes, especially days like these when I struggle to find an entertaining, informative, and logistically not impossible activity for the children.
Or days when I seem to search and search for that perfect little something and I am sure it must exist in New York, and yes, maybe it is here in İstanbul as well but traffic, chaos or simply faith forbids me to find it (yes, we do finally have Manolo here, and no, that's not what I'm talking about).

I will post about the incredible stuff we do here in Istanbul as well - we play tourist a lot, and enjoy Istanbul to its fullest extent. Just don't make us drive too much.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mother of all gifts.

-pre post warning - honey, if you're reading this, please understand that I had to write about it. I know that you will understand. You see, there's a $250 gift certificate for a spa (well, in the US, but you know I will travel back some time in the next decade) and you could count that as your next Valentines Day gift. So here it goes.

The year was 2003, probably the first week of February. I was 7+ months pregnant to Tunca and my sweet husband said that he would take Arda out so I could take a nap. I instantly guessed that this was just one of his devilishly smart ways of saying "Valentines Day is near, I didn't get anything for you, even though you always say that you don't want anything you'll be upset if I don't get you a gift, so I should go." There was a nap on the line, and I never say no to naps. Ever.

Both came back a few hours later snickering like the little children they are, "hid" some stuff in the hallway closet and I pretended not to notice.

Now in our house, hubby and I usually decide on something "big" we want, and combine birthdays, Valentines, new years and what have you presents into this "one" gift (my beloved past Mac Powerbooks, my new IMac, my IPod, our DVD player, the camera that takes all these photos you see on this blog have all accumulated over the years as our combined gifts to each other). But we also buy something small, like a card or a pen, or socks (yep, that's my terrible gift) as well to commemorate the day.

So Valentines Day comes and Arda (who was almost 3 then) is so excited about this great gift that they bought together with his dad.

A perfectly wrapped present.
Those of you who know me should be falling off their chairs right now because I don't cook.

The thing actually comes in very handy and I often find myself saying "this is the best gift ever" and I don't mean sarcastically. I do on occasion use it for mashed potatoes, but more often for guacamole (hurray for guacamole! I love guacamole!!) and making hair to the kids' PlayDough creations. And honey, I love you. Told you in my previous post that I was feeling sentimental. Can't even write a bad gift post.

- mid post warning, mom, please read what I wrote for hubby, and we can share the certificate if I win it -

Another wonderful gift I got was from my dear mom. It was my 16th birthday, the first one I was celebrating without my parents since I was living in San Diego as an exchange student. Phone calls were very expensive then, and usually we wrote actual letters to each other. A few days before my birthday, I received a letter from my mom. Here it goes.

"Dear Zeynep,
Happy birthday! We miss you very much. Even though I never wanted to give birth to you, you have always brought joy to my life and I am so glad I did now. Love, mom."

What? WHAT?

I understand now. I was pretty shocked when I first read it, but I understand, mom. Really. It must have been so hard for you with my brother living so far from you, and your health, and your financial situation, and all the changes in your life, I understand how a second child must have scared you s*itless. What counts is what you did after I was born - be the incredible mom, the super -uber- mom who worked unbelievable hours to make ends meet, who spent every second of her spare time with me and my brother, who put curlers in my hair when I felt down and made me giggle, whom all my friends said "I wish my mom was like that," who always always supported me in everything I wanted to do even though she knew it wasn't good for me, simply because it was my choice and she is the kind of woman who respects her children...

And every chance you get, mom, you tell me how happy you are that I was born. That's what counts.

Upon closing, I would like to mention my sister in law's ill timed present (a week before Mother's day, I had no children then) - a wonderful cellulite cream as a runner up. But she made up for more than that with all the wonderful purses she gave me through the years, as well as the gorgeous heart shaped gold pendant she got me the next year as a soon-to-be-mom present. Plus the most perfect black boots she got me this year, just because she likes me.

PBN hand in hand with Get in Her Head had this wonderful idea of having all interested write their own "gifts gone bad-perfect gifts" blog entry. Get in Her Head might just be my new favorite site, soon. If only I could get hubby to read it, of course.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My babies.

These pictures came just at the right time for my sentimentality:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Call me!

If I were to have a phone like this, my kids would stop using speed dial to call their dads and make him bring all kinds of junk home because they would have no clue as to how to dial the darn thing.

And it looks so cute.

Twisted Love.

I went to get gas today and on the way this song was playing. The attendants looked at me very strange when I didn't put the windows or turn the music down when I pulled up because I did not want to miss a word of the lyrics.

I swear this will be the first song I sing in karaoke night. Anyone need a alto soloist for a rock band who does covers etc? Lemme know.

This takes either a very sick understanding (and experience) of love or true genius. Talk amongst yourselves now and let me be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Random "I feel strange" entry.

So there are times when people tell me that I must be depressed. That I look depressed.(They're all weird and should go and mind their own business ha!). I am the kind of person you hardly see sulking. Or look depressed. I may be depressed, but won't let on, even to myself. I'm more like the "sweep the stuff under the carpet" type. In my everyday life as well. One doomed Friday night I found a bunch of raisins stuck under the carpet (Arda's bidding, Tunca's action, I later found out), apparently, three months after the act. And, as I wrote in previous entries, I am lazy and shallow so I let them be until Monday when the maid would be in.

In this book that I am reading, the main character describes her depression as not the "blues" but the yellows - a never ending hiatus of piss. It seems quite a strange way to express depression, but come to think of it, the mellow temperance, the lukewarm feeling and the hazy outlook is quite fitting.

I think of my depression to be transparent, like saran wrap (hmm, here's something else to analyze my dear shrink - first the Bounty then the saran wrap, there must be something lurking in that weird subconscious of mine - let the housewife out of her chains for gods sake!). I tend to get wrapped in it (oh the irony) but the depression in itself is expertly crafted because -yes- it has these handy little perforations and even though I may look like those securely and tightly wrapped sandwiches they sell in cafes, the pickle or the tomato or the mayo is just waiting for the right moment to burst out. Thanks to the perforations. So just like I get distracted from everything else, I am too scatterbrained to even get truly depressed. (Don't make me eat my words, fate, please).

Analyze that for me please.

Anyways, my shrink (whom I haven't seen in over three years but still really respect and even like) had said that during the construction of my character the foundation was placed pretty well, so slight tremors like 4.5 earthquakes would not knock me down but a stronger one might do enough damage to require renovation. Knock on wood for no earthquakes anytime soon.

The bugs have gone.

I forgot to mention that the recent additions to our ever lasting list of aquarium pets are with us no more. I am glad we never named them.

Burak thinks they passed away from grief over our leaving them behind to go on vacation. The sentimental guy that he is.

Friday, April 11, 2008

THE vacation.

Well, it was an interesting one.

It started out with my brother calling and saying both he and my nephew were sick, so they would probably arrive two days later. Then our flight was delayed for more than two hours in the shittiest airport seen on the face of the earth. Then we arrived to NOT drizzling, but pouring rain, at the hotel, exhausted, and found out the rooms we requested right in front of the playground were being renovated and we were to stay somewhere else in the village... All this aside, we got our towels, bathing suits and walked under pouring rain to the enclosed pool - with every step we got closer, Burak said he had a bad feeling and guess what - NO POOL! Well, the pool was there but the cover ceiling thingy flew off in a storm four months ago and they never got to fix it and yes, forgot to mention it.

So here we were in pouring rain, with stupid towels in our hands and our bathing suits underneath. Instead of the pool we decided to have lunch and take pictures while we looked for a- another hotel with an indoor pool, or b- a flight back home!
Check out the storm outside!

The kids refused both ideas vehemently, so we decided to ask the reception to send us a golf cart to take us to the pool in the spa. Now this is a very hoity toidy spa that has a nice indoor pool, lots massage and facial/treatment rooms, a big Turkish bath, saunas, jacuzzis and what have you. And you're supposed to be quiet there. Ha ha good luck with that one with my children! Might as well ask them to read Peace and War (edit - thanks dad, see how well read I am? War and Peace). From memory.

Upon entering, we asked whether we would disturb anyone (usually, no children under 18 allowed, and that's not because of naked people walking around) but they assured us that since the other pool was closed we were more than welcome to use this one and no one would mind.

So our adventure began, and the kids were actually very quiet (compared to their usual decibels). Oh, they were also the only children in the whole hotel anyways.

The next day was the same, lots of rain, lots of time alternating between the pool, the jacuzzi, the hamam, but they opened the mini club for the kids and they made t-shirts, painted and played mini golf and board games with Tanja, a very nice Belgian woman who spoke English as well as a little bit of Turkish.
Let there be sunshine. Now! Please!

Tunca had various mishaps, as did Arda, lots of falling, getting muddy, splinters etc but we were able to only picture Tunca's wonderful fall into a pool of mud after a jet speed slide ride, being the wonderful parents we are. I still can not stop laughing. We should have taped it.

The next two days were wonderful and sunny, and we even got to make dams (no, my children are truly realistic and do not build castles, signed, sanctimommy) in the sand.

My brother and his son Ali joined us on Monday and as my brother put it, the whole vacation was like a three day (five for us) birthday party for the kids - they have a great time and you just sit around being bored. I actually had a very relaxing time, even finished a whole book, but my sun allergies did not help at all, have always been very adamant about making me miserable. But such is life.

Friday, April 4, 2008

New family members.

I was reading Peppa Studio's blog when I realized I haven't introduced our newest members to the family.

They have been with us for about two weeks now, and are not named yet (for fear they would pass away in a hurry) but here they are:
I don't exactly know what they are, mini lobsters? There also was a mussel - you can see it in the photo above - but the babies ate that. So sweet. They keep shedding their whole skins (crusts?) and eating then, too. They are growing nice and plump. If I were a lobster person, they probably would look yummy in a few months... Thank goodness I don't eat anything that comes out of the water. I wish we had a dog.

We are going to Bodrum for a short vacation, so I will not be updating until next week. The boys are very excited, but my brother and his son Ali are sick and will only be joining for three days so I'm a bit bummed about that. Here are a few pictures from previous years:
I don't know what's with my mouth in that last one - I may be eating something. These are probably from 2005. We always go to SeaGarden Hapimag for spring break - no one's there, prices are low and Bodrum is greener than ever this season.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Today, I finally got to see my beloved friend Ahu, and her very shy daughter Maya, who returned from the US to live here in İstanbul.

A thousand entries would not be enough to describe what I went through when I came to live here. Mixed feelings of finally being close to my family combined with longed for relationships, new friends, leaving all that was young and New York behind and living, finally, in where I thought I belonged - the beautiful, beautiful İstanbul... My shrink thinks I still have to live through those feelings of "migration" (why yes, I am a bird) after all these years.

A thousand entries will not be enough for her, either. She just has to live through them. And brace herself. And her family.

Anyways, we were talking about how we end up pulling everyone around us together (and believe me, I am actually looking forward to her pulling me together, just like she did in college :).

And I realized, we are Bounty. The quilted quicker picker upper. My life was so fine when I used paper towels to clean an entire apartment. Bounty was all I needed. Now there are different scraps of cloth for the windows, the tiles, the rugs... It is all so complicated. Yes, I may be shallow, but yey for me because the maid has to deal with all that is complex.

See Ahu, we have that in İstanbul. No need for paper towels. And remind me to give you the number of my shrink. She's quilted as well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Emo Kid Continued

You probably read about Arda's feelings toward inanimate objects. He also has a tendency to get very emotional while watching movies as well. He was only 4 when he first saw Ice Age and to this day, every single time he watches it, he runs to his bedroom and tries to occupy himself with something.

Since he was sick all of last week, we had our share of watching movies - Nanny McPhee is very popular with Tunca - what child doesn't adore kids who call themselves poop bum anyways. So the three of us are sitting/lying down on the couch right in front of the TV and Arda, with all his fever, gets up and runs to his room, crying, "that evil, evil woman!" It was the scene where the soon to be new stepmother of the kids breaks the baby's rattle left by their dead mother.

The next day, we're watching a movie about a crow, and the crow, after being locked up and put on live TV (no idea how the plot goes, I was playing Puzzle Quest on the DS) flies to some backyard and steals a toddler's toy, so the toddler toddles (ugh) off the yard into the street looking for it, leaving, yeah you guessed, Arda, to run back to his room, screaming, "the kid's gonna get lost!!"

Is it too early to see a shrink, or should I feel blessed to have a child "in touch" with his feelings?

Traffic traffic everywhere.

Traffic in Istanbul is becoming ever more chaotic. When we moved back here 7 years ago from the US, we were not flabbergasted with it - after all, we were "New Yorkers" and hey, avoid rush hour and weekend soccer games and we were set.

Not anymore.

Traffic is everywhere, every minute of the day, and we are actually surprised when there isn't traffic.

So here I am today, amidst uncontrollable fits of coughing thanks to the wonderful virus Arda gave me as a pre-April-fools day present, trying to get to a bookstore to buy a something for a friend's daughter (as well as music notebooks for both the boys for Arda's guitar lessons, and why, we have to buy one for Tunca as well, so he doesn't feel left out) at 2PM on a weekday and waddaya know - traffic.

It takes me more than a half hour to drive a distance that should take less than 10 minutes, and 45 minutes on the way back thanks to the Fenerbahçe's Champs League game tomorrow - everyone just HAS to stop by the stadium store, double parking and making the already senseless traffic even worse.

I am a big Beşiktaş fan, and don't mind other Turkish teams having European victories but darnit - find somewhere else to park, you mean mean fans.