I Don’t Do Windows

Or vacuum, or mop, or dishes, or dust, or scrub.  That is our deal. Bülent and I have a division of labor. I am the Cooking Bitch, and he is the Cleaning Bitch. This works well for us, with the exception of a hiccup every now and then.   It actually turns out to be advantageous.  I spend more time on meals and food preparation than I would if I had to clean the house too. For example, I don’t mind spending an hour or two at the pazar looking for the freshest (organic) produce and then the next two hours it takes to wash all the sand out of my vegetables.  Because I don’t have to clean.  But Bulent is teaching and working on his PhD.  Sometimes he was very pressed for time, but we both like a clean apartment.

Enter Selma.   We love Selma.  Everyone I know here has a maid.  Most people have them come once a week at least.  We are still slightly maid conservative (guilt from feeling lazy and coming from the States). So Selma comes every other week.  That way Bulent only has to do a touch up once a week, plus the dishes, etc.  Selma does all the deep cleaning.  She vacuums, mops, washes the windows, scrubs every inch of the kitchen and bathroom.  She changes the sheets and the duvet. There are no dryers here so everything comes out a little wrinkly, so she irons everything. She IRONS everything.  She irons EVERYTHING.    She irons our clothes, our curtains, our sheets.

If we ask her, she also cooks.  When my parents came to Turkey I wanted them to have lovely home cooked Turkish food—it is the best kind of food here and you can’t get it in restaurants.  She made lovely and amazing food.   On the days she works it is so wonderful to come home to a ready made, home cooked meal.  She is also patient.  She speaks no English so she has to deal with my notes  in Turkish (yikes!) and my low level of Turkish conversation.   But we make it work.  We pay her top dollar (or lira) because it is what our consciences demands.  We could find another maid for less, but then we would feel icky.  For all day, eight hours, it is 90 lira.  That is 58 dollars a day, and that is above the standard wages.  I could not even imagine having someone come to clean my house in the US.  I don’t know how much that would cost, but I am pretty sure I couldn’t afford it.

Interesting huh?  It is like my mom says, “Every woman needs a wife.”  I have mine, and today I came home to a sparkling clean apartment and a hot meal.  And everything has been ironed.

Sitting On My Ass…Uncomfortably

There is nothing wrong with my ass people. Quite the opposite actually. However, it is feeling guilty. Here is the back story, which you need to know to understand the level of guilt I feel.

I am not religious. At all. When I enter a church my fiancee takes a step away from me, just in case God decides to strike me down. There are only a few reasons I enter church in the first place, funerals, weddings, or the memorial Mass, which in our family we affectionately call the “death brunch” for the food that follows after. My parents are not particularly religious either. My father is an agnostic (or as I like to call it “hedging his bets”) and my mother is spiritual and involved with a non discriminatory church community. However, on my mother’s side the entire family is Catholic. Irish Catholic. Nine Children Catholic. With Catholics guilt is a way of life, about sins and sex and the like. While I am not Catholic, I have inherited the guilt. Not about the sex but about everything else.

More Back story:
Bülent and I have a division of labor. I am the Cooking Bitch, and he is the Cleaning Bitch. I am in charge of preparing all food, grocery shopping and nutrition and he cleans the house, does the dishes and the laundry, etc.

So our house needed to be cleaned. We had been away for three weeks so it had gotten dusty, and then Bülent had been so sick he hadn’t been cleaning. I had been doing the laundry and dishes and kitchen, but everything else needed a good going over. Bülent’s mother, Suzan, knows of this arrangement, and knew that we had both been sick. So she had the idea to hire a cleaning woman so that Bülent who is still not totally better could still rest. However, to hire a woman to come clean means that they will need to be supervised and told what and where to clean. I cannot do that as I do not speak Turkish well enough. So Suzan came over to do it. She shooed us out of the house so we would be out of their way. So the cleaning woman and Suzan proceeded to clean the entire apartment. Granted it needed cleaning, but it was not filthy. But Suzan has the gift of INCREDIBLE attention to detail. For example as I was leaving I saw she had the cleaning woman scrubbing down the outside of our luggage. The luggage! So this was a scrub down of immense proportion. So they start at at and we came back at 4 and they were still at it. She told us to sit down and read or use our laptops. So my guilt is centers around a clean apartment which I did not clean (which is not my division of labor.) When I started this, they were still cleaning. And the guilt was so large that I wanted to pull my bottom lip over my face and swallow. Instead I will try to assuage the guilt, i.e. HELP. So I am off to iron sheets. I did not realize that sheets needed to be ironed. Whoops, more guilt.