The Beloved Chick Magnet

See the faces of those people behind me in line?  They are disapproving because they think we are flirting in front of Dolmabache Palace, Ataturk’s residence.  In reality, what the are seeing is me being manhandled by my younger brother.  He loves that he is bigger, and likes to prove that to me.  He has no mercy.P6112409

He also does not lie, cheat or steal.  He is kind to children and animals.  He is witty and erudite.  My friends also tell me he is handsome.  Or in NH, “Wicked hot.”


He is my baby brother, a great guy, and a good friend.  He is also turning 22. Happy Birthday Elly.Elly  I love you.


Even though you have no mercy.

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So as you know, we are staying in Turkey.  While this is exciting, I also miss things from home.  Like sushi and bacon.  There are just some things here that I can not get, or are incredibly expensive.  I certainly miss the convince of the U.S.  I think the biggest difference is in cooking.  It takes me twice as long to cook things here because everything has to be made from scratch.  There are no short cuts.  No cake mixes, or frozen bread dough or pie crusts.  No canned tomato sauce, or semi-prepared veggies, etc.

The good news is that we are eating very little processed food and we have lost weight without trying.  So anyone who would like to send me love swag, otherwise known as care packages, let me know.  In preparation for the flood of goodies, I have started a list. Seriously.

Whoops…Diagnosis: Googleitis

You know you do it.  You start sniffling, coughing, get a symptom that you are not used to and…using Google, self diagnose.  This activity can go two ways, you can decide you have some benign virus, or convince yourself you may die before the sun comes up.

You know you do it.  I do it.

Like the time I thought I had a brain tumor.  In my defense my pupils kept dilating unequally.  Funny—later I noticed a warning on my allergy eye drops that they may dilate the pupils.  Oops.

The other day I thought I was developing sun poising, I had had it before and knew what it looked like.   I did not have all the symptoms, but the rash on my chest looked like sun poisoning.  So there I am, researching sun poising, thinking over my day trying to figure out how much sun exposure I had.  And that was when I realized I was trying to diagnose whisker burn.  Oops.  But in my defense Bülent does not come with a warning label.

My breasts are communal.

Breasts in a way are fairly public sphere.  I mean, they are out there, some more than others.  They are constantly being appraised and viewed.  When I used to nanny I found that small children view them as comfort objects or alternatively, as balance handles.  It is also fairly common, when trying on clothes to have your breasts touched in some way when the fit is being altered.  And this is the case which I will address today.

I went shopping with Bülent and his mother.  There was a store with buy one get one free sale, so I swooped in there like cotton was going off the market.  I found two lovely dresses.  I was in the dressing room deciding which size I needed while Bülent and his mom waited outside to see the selection.  So I come out, and they both love the dress.  His mother starts to fuss over the fit, apparently it was sitting too low.  In the effort to alter the fit she was adjusting the bodice and occasionally touching my breasts in a business like manner.  Anyone who has been fussed over for fit knows what I am talking about, the casual, non-sexual brush and poke.  I did not even notice it, I was paying attention to the dress.  But Bülent did.  And the look on his face was priceless.  Apparently it never occurred to him that his mother would be handling what he considers his personal play toys.  As if he wasn’t scandalized enough, she didn’t like they way the dress looked on my breasts and starts asking him if I was wearing a bra.  (I wasn’t.)  When she figured that out, she said, “Oh, have her wear a bra with the dress, it will lift the breasts right up”…and started to demonstrate.  And she has a formidable bosom.

It was at this time I told Bülent to meet me at the cash register because I wasn’t sure if he was going to start crying or go catatonic.  He was pretty uncomfortable.  I thought it was hilarious and she had missed the entire by-play and thought nothing of it.   Later I intensified his discomfort by telling him about how she had already seen my breasts another time when we were trying on clothes.

He is still recovering.

Officially an Expat

I don’t know whether the adjective expat seems cool or obnoxious.  But that is now what I am, no longer on extended vacation.  I am now officially an American living abroad!  Or “yabanci” as Turkish call it…  To summarize, my fiancé is a Turkish American and we came to Turkey 6 months ago to experience his native culture.

Bulent and I came to Turkey in February for several reasons…

To complete his compulsory military duty, introduce me to his culture, language, and family.  It was also an early extended honeymoon, where we got to travel extensively.  We were also keeping our eyes out for career opportunities

We were going to stay for a few months as a trial period, I had never been to Turkey and wanted to see if I was comfortable here.  It has been a phenomenal trip, I have experienced Turkish food and hospitality in spades, and have started learning the language.    We had some opportunities in both Turkey and the US, and for different reasons when we evaluated the situation it made more sense to live in Turkey, for now.   Bulent is applying for jobs and I have  accepted a job at a prestigious prep school.

It was a hard decision, I will miss my friends and family in the U.S. tremendously.  I will have to start all over again in a country where I do not know the language.  There will be challenges, however there will also be excitement.

I will be immersed in a new culture and language, and with study will be able to become fluent.  This is the time to take advantage of our situation and enjoy being young and unencumbered.  And we are doing it.  How many people get to do this?   It is an exciting adventure and I am so glad it has started.

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Just the right mix, looking for adventure, but trying not to fall off the wall and down the cliff.

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Road Trip(s) and Food

We have traveled quite a bit recently.  To Bodrum for our friends’ (from San Diego) Turkish wedding reception.  Then another week we drove to Bulent’s grandmothers in Seferhisar and on the way we visited Bodrum, Kusadasi, Izmir and Cesme.  Bodrum is an adorable Aegean town/city.  It is very developed and has a very busy party scene.  It has a lovely marina that runs the length of the main tourist drag, as well as a historical castle right on the sea and a renowned underwater archeology museum.

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While we were there we had some Lokma, which is cousin to If Jesus was a Baker.  Sweet dough, deep fried then soaked in a sugar syrup. While you eat them, you can actually feel your fat cells expanding.  But very delicious.

Marmaris JulyAug 2009 068 Once we got to Seferhisar our days consisted of visiting with family, eating, swimming and preparing to eat.  Uncle Shadi grilled every night, there were koftes, and veggies and lamb chops and chicken. Marmaris JulyAug 2009 146

Anything that didn’t move fast enough was grilled.  It was tasty.Marmaris JulyAug 2009 136 Here you can see koftes, corban salad, bulgur pilaf, and grilled tomatoes and peppers. That was my plate, I was excited to eat.  Don’t I look happy!

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Also naked!   I would like to state I was not eating dinner topless with Bulent’s grandmother.  Though it may appear as so.

Though in other news I over came  my shyness enough to tan topless in the yard.  Where people saw me.  Yay!

I Would Prefer to Drown, Please.

We visited Bulent’s grandmother in the small sitesi (housing development) near Sefirhisar.  It was beautiful, craggy rocks and cliffs and turquoise waters.  The Aegean was much colder than the Mediterranean, but was incredibly fun to swim in because the water was so clear and clean.  You could actually see the bottom 30 feet down and make out the features of the sea floor.   Everyone there swims.  Many people take a dip before breakfast and then later go back to sun bathe.  Well, the 2nd day we were there, we decided to go long distance swimming.  Bulent used to swim to nearby islands as a kid, and it is still a popular pastime for the teens.  I was a little hesitant, I can swim but was always a close to shore kind of kid.  So as we were heading out, Bulet’s aunt decided to join us.  We managed to get out to the island, but to get there you had to swim past the jetty that protects the bay, so the water was a little rougher.  By the time we got to the island Bulent’s aunt was too tired and scared to try to swim all the way back, instead she wanted to swim to the other side of the bay, which was closer, and walk back.  However, nobody swims there and we were not sure about rocks or Moray eels.  Bulent’s 12 year old cousin was already at the island, so he said he would swim ahead to check for sea urchins and hidden rocks.  So we manage to get almost all the way into the bay when there is a conference between Bulent, his aunt and his cousin.  In Turkish.   So I think, SHIT this can’t be good.  And it wasn’t.  The side of the bay were were swimming into was uninhabited, so the water was in its natural state. To get to shore we were going to have to swim though a big patch of seaweed.  I said forget it, your aunt can’t swim back, but I will.  Meet you at the other side of the bay.  However, Bulent did not want me to swim a mile back by myself and could not leave his aunt, she needed help.  So I started swimming.  If I had to do it again and it was a 10 mile swim back, I would have done it, over swimming through that seaweed.  Shit, I almost bit it, huge gulps of seawater down my throat, Bulent pushing me from behind.  Only later did I discover that the conference had been about whether in swimming through the seaweed would we disturb the SEASNAKES that live there.  After we made it through the gauntlet of seaweed and sea snakes we walked the mile back to the sitesi on the hot asphalt road, barefoot.  If something like that ever happens again, I will let Bulent swim to shore, get a boat and come back for me.  Not because I am a primadonna, but because I prefer certain death that swimming through slippery, grasping seaweed inhabited by sea snakes.

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It was gorgeous though!

Fear in My Heart

Yesterday, something horrible happened. Truly frightening.  I got up and went to the bathroom, approached the toilet, and realized, the bath mat was soaking.  You know, the one that hugs the potty, that one.  I was at a severe disadvantage, having already taken out my contacts.  It was water—thank goodness.  But we had no idea where it was coming from.  The wasn’t overflowing, we could see no leaking.  So after scrubbing my feet, I ran up stairs to the other bathroom.  After I flushed, I heard it.  The noise that strikes fear into the heart of any one who appreciates indoor plumbing.   “The Gurgle.”  There was a gurgle, a loud one.  Then water started seeping out from around the bottom of the downstairs toilet.  And then the plumber became our BFF.  I may or may not have offered him my first born child.