Monday, October 18, 2010

Apocryphal Armistice

Well, I got sick of Turkish Summer.  I called it Desperately Imperfect for a while because that's what it was, but now I'm done.  This blog has moved to:

Deal with it.

apocryphal |əˈpäkrəfəl|
(of a story or statement) of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true : an apocryphal story about a former president. See note at spurious .
• (also Apocryphal) of or belonging to the Apocrypha : the Apocryphal Gospel of Thomas.

armistice |ˈärməstis|
an agreement made by opposing sides in a war to stop fighting for a certain time; a truce.
ORIGIN early 18th cent.: from French, or from modern Latin armistitium, from arma ‘arms’ (see arm 2 ) + -stitium ‘stoppage.’

Thursday, October 14, 2010

PSATs (I Got A Splinter From An Onion Yesterday...Isn't That Pathetic)

Okay, I'd written a full post and was about to, um, post it, but then something happened and, considering that not many of you are going to read this all the way through, I had to put it at the top.  During lunch today, I and a couple other people made ice cream with the chem teacher.  He poured a lot of milk, cream, sugar and half of one of those little bottles of vanilla into a big bowl, gave me a huge, thick pair of gloves and a wooden spoon, and told me to sit down.  The madman (this is the same person I got my guinea fowl from) proceeded to open up a huge flask of liquid nitrogen - food grade, he assured us - and pour it in while I stirred.  Even with the gloves, it was freezing and I couldn't see what was going on in the bowl for all the cold, white vapours billowing out.  I felt as though I was brewing some ghastly potion.  Anyway, after about three minutes of this we had some rather lumpy-looking, but very proper-tasting ice cream, which we proceeded to consume and distribute joyfully to the population of the hallway!  Geekiest fun that I've had in a while.  Okay, here's the original post:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday, wake up/Give me a...

...Cigarette/ Last night's love affair is looking vulnerable in my bed...
 Marina and the Diamonds, people.  Look 'em up.  I spent far too much time listening to Guster last night, actually, and missing the guy who gave me the tracks and who now isn't replying to any of my emails.  But on to merrier things, if only slightly:

My God, what an awful week that was.  Everyone here was so unhappy at the end of Friday, and we went a little nuts with our free time.  I'm sort of curious to see how they'll all behave today - Sunday is homework day, of course.  I had an evil essay which I'm sure I did badly on, a chemistry test on which I got a 75 percent (though my chem grade is somehow up to an A- now) and there's another enormous project looming for English.  It's the same way for everyone else.  Worse.  But I shook it off pretty well.

Friday afternoon I... oh, dear, I can't even remember what I did right after classes ended.  This is worrisome.  Anyway, Friday night I did some stargazing with some friends.  We talked about black holes and comets and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy like proper nerds, and the sky is so clear up here, we had the milky way all to ourselves.  There were shooting stars, the grass was dry for some reason, and so we stayed out there until it was too cold for any more. 
Oh, wait, before that I'd been watching Kill Bill: Vol. 2 with another friend, but he had to go and get his foot X-rayed half way through for reasons to do with the perils of organized sports, so we finished that last night.  He made dinner, I did dessert (if you want people to love you, make them profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate ganache - half the dorm was ready to climb into my newly amazing double bed) and we need to finish another film today.
I also have to start writing an essay, do some chemistry coursework and a little maths today, but that'll happen - I'll fit it around a cappella, instrumental ensemble and callback auditions.  Yeah, I made it into - oh, God, I haven't even told you people about that yet, have I?  Well, there's a boy here who's directing The Importance Of Being Ernest (which you can read here if you haven't already)  and auditions were yesterday.  I picked a monologue of Eve's by Mark Twain - it was very drily funny, and it must have gone well because by evening he'd posted the callback list and I was on it.  Being the only person in the school with a real British accent helps just a bit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Should Be Doing Homework

I just realized that I never posted this.  I took it weeks ago on the bus back from a weekend at home.  There's another long weekend coming up in a couple weeks.  I'm sitting on a wide, high-up windowsill in the dorm lounge right now, and waiting for structured study to start.  I think I might have failed a chemistry test today, and I'm facing an evil essay whose only grace is its comparative shortness - it's still killing me.  With all that in mind, I should probably take my leave now, lovely reader, much as it grieves me. 
Hoş çakal.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What We Do Here

Yesterday, after getting up off my downstairs neighbors' rug - there was a Saturday-night sleepover.  You should see my nails - and dragging myself to the cafeteria to make up for the dish duty I'd forgotten about the night before, I begged off a cappella with a sore throat that's still bothering me and went for a walk with the guy whose hair I dyed a few posts back.  We took a couple pictures while roaming the grounds, and this is a celebratory post because I can now upload them.  I was having to do it by email before, which meant limiting it to about three photos per post.  Unacceptable.  But the tech guys here are all-knowing and I can now do whatever the hell I like with photos, as well as access the iTunes store and finally watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  I have to keep this really short, because I have a chem test on Thursday and an English paper due Friday that I haven't even started, but here's what we did. 

Oh, and my Maytag model asked me to do it again.  He's dyed his hair since, and I haven't done much with these photos, but here they are anyway.

I'm also filling out my application for the NSLI-Y programme again.  I don't think I could graduate from here if I did a year or semester in Turkey, so I'm going for a summer in Tajikistan.  I need to know more middle-eastern languages. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Post With No Clothes

I like clothes, people. 
They're nice to pick out and throw together and talk about and think about, and fun to make statements with, and an easy way to confuse the hell out of people by changing them twice a day between classes (guilty).  But do we honestly have to wear them All The Time?  I am really goddamn sick of this whole keeping-on-your-clothes thing in the dorm.  My wing is one straight, long corridor and my room is right at the end of it.  The door to the upper lobby's usually open, and yes, I wrap myself in a towel and dash across the hall to get to the showers.  Who's it going to hurt?  So bloody what if someone sees me?  It's a towel, people.  I wear outfits that cover about half as much of me and nobody blinks.  And if somebody with a penis happens to see somebody without one while they're basically wearing a floor-length dress, is it really apocalypse?  At home I don't have to put up with this shit and I can make breakfast naked if I want.  I'm not used to worrying about who might see me - I just don't care.

But one of the residential staff - that is to say, the teacher whose apartment is on our wing - just stopped me and said I have to be 'more conscious of how covered up I am'.  Christ.  I don't tend to show an indecent amount of skin in general -  up here you can't, you'd freeze to death most of the year - but that doesn't seem to be the point.  Nobody has a problem with shorts and tank tops around the lounge.  We live here, after all, and casual dress is to be expected.  It's not a big deal... who cares what the person sitting next to you is wearing?  Maybe you can see shoulders and, may the good lord preserve us, a little cleavage!  My god, how awful!  No.  Nobody acts that Victorian when it's about what people are wearing to schmooze.  But when you're dashing from the shower room with wet hair and flipflops to your bedroom and are, in this shameful towel-wrapped state, exposed to the view of whomever should turn in your direction for a duration of perhaps ten seconds, you are an irresponsible, loose, slutty troublemaker.  Why do we have to be so... closeted, I guess, about our bodies?  There's no great secret about them.  I don't mean to bitch, but, god, Americans.  H-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e-s.  Your culture orders us to be as promiscuous as we can possibly contrive to be, but the moment anybody, especially a woman steps out of line with the rest, or fails to find anything to be ashamed of about her body, you become Puritanical prudes and slut-shun the hell out of her.  I know I'm technically one of you, but I feel so much more European in this respect.  Give it a break.  These double standards can be damned.  If I'm allowed to go out in a short skirt and camisole but can't be in a towel on the girls' wing, what else can they restrict?  Only read controversial books in public where you can be supervised?  Don't be a Jew where someone might see?

Okay, I know those are different.  Those are 'real' issues, you might say, but this is the same principle - it's people being scared of anything they consider abnormal, of anybody having the guts not to be ashamed of what everybody else hides.  Really, it's so unfair.  It's ridiculous that I should even have to be writing this, and I know it's not the end of the world that I might have to throw on a bathrobe tomorrow morning.  It's just stupid.
So I don't sound like a totally boring bitcher, and also so I can attach a relevant photo to this post that's not porn, I'll tell you what else I did today.  This is the beginning of '80s weekend here, which meant dressing up for school today and a fantastic dance this evening.  Tomorrow there's a movie marathon planned which includes Labyrinth, and while I'm sure you're shaking your head at this point because it's full of bad memories of half-hearted spirit weeks and theme days wherever you go/went to school, I can say that, if today is any indication, the people here - students and faculty - pull    it    off.  There were some amazing costumes (everyone came to me for solid-coloured tights.  That's right, I'm the legwear queen here.  Remember what I said at the beginning of this one?  I like clothes.) and a record player in the lounge was set up.  I spent my free hour between tech and chem dancing to Thriller, King of Pain, Hip to be Square and Eye of the Tiger instead of studying for a quiz on solubility of ionic compounds.  It was amazing fun.  And there was more of it all at the dance tonight... and let it be known that I love, have always loved and will always love Wham!'s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.  Anyway, I'm utterly exhausted from way too much dancing, after which there was a costume competition with 5 prizes.  I won one of them, and I guess I could go ahead right now and do that thing fashion bloggers do where they break down their outfits and say what's from where:

-The shoes are, quite obviously, just converse.  They were a present for getting into the Turkey program.
-Socks are Gap kid's.  So I wear my little brother's clothing.  What'ya gonna do about it?
-The tights were a birthday present.  I don't know where they're from but I love them.
-The skirt was a Wet Seal impulse buy for a ridiculously tiny amount of money.  Yes, I'm ashamed, but I'm not sorry.  Thought I'd never wear it anywhere...
-The sweater's American Eagle, but was handed down to me from one of my mum's friends, and I think it might actually be a 1980s piece.
-You can't really see it, but the blue beads were a present from my teacher in Turkey.  She gave us all a little something and knew I was into retro jewelery.  Miss her so much. 


My prize was this Smurf shirt.  It's my new favourite oversized tee. 
That's all for now.  Night, everyone!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Week, Another Package

...Except the package had a dozen eggs in it.  And, carefully bubble-wrapped as they were  by my dear and loving parents, only six made it.  It was a bit of a mess.  But worth it, because there were also apples, bread, goats' cheese, a little jar of homemade chocolate sauce, nuts and carrots.  I am a very happy girl today, and not just because of that.

Here we have these things called 1/3 reports.  As in, every one-third of a semester.  The first of these reports is coming out this week, and I can't belive that a sixth of the year has already gone by.  I know approximately how I'm doing - I think I have Bs in chemistry and tech, and my average in maths is hovering in the mid-seventies.  I got back that big English essay, which turned out to be an A of some kind, and so I'm hoping that that will reflect my average in the class.  I feel like my grades are slowly getting better - there were just a couple of rough first tests.  İnşallah.

I also have a double bed now!  In that the bunk beds that I formerly occupied are now side-by-side on the floor.  I'm going to get a big pad to keep the mattresses together, but I slept on it like this last night and it wasn't even much of a problem.  This photo of my room shows you just what a distracted cleaner I am, but there you go.  Now that that big swath of wall under the turkish scarf is free, I'm going to fill it up with some posters - I've got a nice black-and-white world map, and a Banksy print in the mail.

And last night, I dyed my neighbor's hair for him.  Bright red.  He looks absolutely amazing, and it was loads of fun.  Oh, and I've started reading The Kite Runner, which is an abfab book, people (I'm aware that I'm probably the last person on earth to figure that out).  I'd read Khaled Hosseini's second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and enjoyed it immensely, but I think this one is even better.

I can't write more because I need to get to the local shop for flour, milk and sugar before dinner, and have a massive amount of studying to do, but wish me luck with those reports.
Hoş çakal!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Grindstone: Modern Education

Oh, well.  All extended weekends must pass.  My bus was the first home, at about half past five, and there was no seven-to-nine structured study as people were trickling in all evening.  I hung around in the lower lounge with people and, among other things, read someone's anti-feminism post-modernist short story and was offered $20 by one of the guys.  To feel my breasts.  People, take pity on me in the asylum I live in, and … oh, I don't know… go watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes this weekend.  That'll make me happy.  It's what I plan to do, after a whole lot of nonvolunteer work that the school organizes for us to do. 
But, really, it's nice to be back.  It was great to see my friends at home, to visit my old school (It feels so weird to write that), where I sat in on a French class and realized that I still have all the vocabulary, but can't conjugate in anything but Turkish, and to sleep in my own bed, and be woken up by my little brother at ungodly hours – before one p.m.! – but I'm glad to be back on a routine.  The weather's really cooling off here, but I was able to watch a bit of the football soccer game (I confused a lot of people this evening when I told them about it in british terms) that the local school was playing tonight.  Boys' team.  A couple friends are on their team (that's what we have to do if we want to play sports), and 'we' were actually winning when I left to eat some of the glorious bread and cheese and vegetables I dragged back with me.  There were many jokes made on the bus about gardens being shifted, and they developed into a (rather speculative) discussion about when plants stop photosynthesizing.  We are geeks and we are happy.  (I am all about the brackets tonight, aren't I?)

There are a few other people here who are into photography, which is nice.  I can't lie around in plain view without somebody instigating an impromptu shoot, and I'm running out of space on my hard drive!  (Who cares?)

Oh, and, if nothing goes amiss, I'm going to the Common Ground Fair this weekend!  It's been said that if a bomb were dropped on the Common Ground Fair, Maine's surviving hippie population would be countable on one hand.  This is completely undesirable, as they happen to make it a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining place to be – from their no-refined-sugar-within-the-gates policy to the totally delicious deep fried shiitake mushrooms, falafel and gyro (who'd have thought?), to these ridiculous displays of hundreds upon hundreds of varieties of dried beans, barrels-full through which you are allowed to run your dusty hands for as long as you should please… I get very excited about the beans.  There's no disgusting typical fair food or people, and there are all sorts of lovely animals and – my god – activists.  I'll admit, my primary motive in signing up for the trip this weekend is so that I can go to all the political booths, from the Amnestly International people to the Trade With Cuba people to the My Body Is Not Public Property You Freaking Right-Wing Conservative Bastard And I'll Have Abortions Whenever The Hell I Want To people and sign their petitions and buy about forty pins and badges to stick all over my backpack… oh, wait, I don't use one of those any more.  I shall have to find something else to stick pins into…

So, there's really not much more to report.  Oh, wait, sweatshirts: L. gave me his, you know about that.  Well, his girlfriend, my lovely down-the-hall neighbor, had another lovely hoodie that belonged to her maybe not-so-lovely ex back home, and, though I'm not quite sure how, it's become… well, mine.  And I love it!  It's blue and warm and soft and utterly delicious.  That I'm coveting sweaters surely means that summer must be over in my mind, and I'm loath to bid such an eventful season farewell, but I am looking forward to the rest of school.  This time last year, I couldn't imagine myself doing that with much of anything other than resignation – to wasted time and unfriendly people, alleviated, admittedly, by my wonderful darlings at home and a couple good classes.  But to actually be excited about this year is, well, exciting.   I'm enjoying myself here.  I know, right?  Maths homework, which I'm taking a break from right now, is actually quite fun in a therapeutic/numbing sort of way, and I have to ring up my dad in a bit to get him to scan and email a baby picture of me – some secret project the English teacher has lined up, and I forgot to get one while I was home.  But there's always a buzz of sorts in the dorm and the academic building, as they so grandly call it, and I do love that. 

Okay, I have to look what I've said in the face now and go enjoy my maths homework.  Hoş çakal!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


School doesn't feel like summer camp any more.  I'm home for the weekend, but I keep catching myself saying 'when I get home...' and 'I need to take such-and-such home.'  I haven't really lived here in this house since pre-Turkey, and I suppose it can only be taken as a good sign.  But it makes me a tiny bit sad.  I have to think about where things are in the kitchen, and what colour the floors are, and things like that now.

Of course I'm eating myself into a stupor - in preparation for another month in a town whose only shop doesn't have butter -  and it's great.  Greens, eggs, yogurt, meat, bread... stuff that's just better here, as well as special, coastal things.  I think we're having mussels at some point tomorrow, and my dad's melons have gotten so ripe and juicy and beautiful that I died this morning... okay, afternoon... when I got out of bed and came downstairs to find something to eat.

I am also finally over being sick, which is wonderful.  I took Friday off as well as Wednesday, which is a shame because I have to make up for that huge chemistry test next Wednesday morning.  All my friends here have school tomorrow, so I shall study insanely.  By Friday evening I felt better and did some hanging, and a few of us decided to watch Some Like It Hot.  We made cookies and locked ourselves in one of the rooms on my wing, and, ah... bras were put on stuffed panda bears, for a start.  And when Marilyn Monroe is all over Tony Curtis on a 23-inch screen and there are blankets all over the place and you're as tired as we were, strange things happen.  We also burned pieces of broken furniture and, for some reason, used-up Korean math papers, on the camp fire they sometimes set up on Friday nights.  Midnight lights-out annoyed the hell out of me, but I was glad later because we all got up at 6:30-ish to get on one of three 7:15-ish buses to go home... four hours for me, and then another in the car.  However: I acquired a really, really nice sweatshirt on the bus (thank you, L!)

(I took this before stealing his sweater.  He's now said I can keep it (I hope it looks as good on me (wow, parentheses withing parentheses inside more parentheses... I'm treating this sentence like algebra)), because he's cool, and yeah, I know he's reading this).

 (I figured out that my camera has two different black-and-white settings - genius amateur that I am, the manual is still on my to-read list) and then a few more clothes with my currently-extremely-popular-with-me mama before going home.  I tore the Gap men's section up looking for just the right cardigan, and also (my host mother in Turkey will be pleased to know) found, finally, some brown mascara that didn't cost a year of college (My god, they give you a lot of free crap when you buy makeup.  I now have all these removing things and sticks of black eyeliner and colourful powders I get the feeling are intended for eyelids and lord knows what else that I'll never, ever use.  Okay, I lie, I will use them, for photo shoots, I'm just amazed what these companies will do to sell you a tiny tube of sticky supposed-sexiness.  So actually, that's kind of cool).  That made me happy. 

Oh, and then there were these.  How many articles of clothing do you see in this picture?  This kind of thing - clothes so loud they keep me up at night - sets me squealing.

Saturday evening, I was back with the kids and it felt good.  There are apparently some really fun new international students at my old school.  I'm going to try getting permission to visit on Tuesday, just so I can hang out more and be berated by all my old teachers for not deciding to go to art school or something and heading up north.  I'm going to bake some cakes to bring back with me, and also need to restock on essentials such as chocolate, chocolate covered almonds, chocolate dipped pretzels, hot chocolate, chocolate caramels and toothpaste.

Well, on Tuesday it's back home to school, and I have miles of essay to wrestle before I sleep, so, iyi geceler, take care of yourself, world, and I will talk to you whenever the hell I next get around to it.  Not that you're not the center of my universe, dear reader.  It's just that my math teacher doesn't love you as much as I do.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cake and Other Nice Things

All right.  Remember the package?  The one with the Nutella?  Or just scroll down.  One day later - yesterday - my parents sent another one.  Smaller.  Heavier.  Two slabs of brownie, one on top of the other.  Goddamn, I am getting popular here. 

That wasn't even the best thing about yesterday.  Actually, yesterday was horrible, but some cool stuff happened.  The horrible was that I was 'home' sick.  Didn't go to any classes, not even chemistry.  And there was a chem test scheduled for today.  I took my blankets and books down to the lower lounge again and dozed on the sofas because they are more comfortable than my bed, and people came and went and chatted and I got far too little done.  But the cool thing was that we had Student Senate elections - there were five spots open and the eleven-or-so of us running given speeches the night before (mine was about the diplomatic importance of Turkish in student government), and I'm in!  The others elected were all boys.  I'm rather excited.

So, today my benevolent chemistry teacher let me off and said I can take that exam tomorrow.  I came home with the honest intention of studying for it... and saw this.  And, come on, why did my mama send me poppy seeds if not to have me bake beautiful cakes with them?  I'll study... um, after I'm done blogging!  But I feel obliged to share this recipe with you, wonderful as it is.  I'll tell you that it's well worth a few points off a chem grade.  And about twenty other people agree with me.  So make it if you get a chance, okay?

1 cup poppy seeds
1 cup of milk
1 cup (8 oz., 2 sticks or 16 tablespoons) soft unsalted butter
2 cups of plain flour
2 cups of sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons of vanilla (I used a little less because I'm a low-budget student.  Ha.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a cake pan.  The recipe said to use a tube pan, but mine was an 8" X 11" Pyrex baking dish, and that fit beautifully.

Put your poppy seeds and milk in a small saucepan, bring them to the boil and then take them off the heat to cool (they should be more or less room-temperature, because you don't want them to melt the butter later).
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater (handheld in my case...I miss my KitchenAid!) until light and fluffy and transcendently deliciously fatteningly good.
Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla, followed by the poppy seed mixture, and beat the hell out of them until everything but the seeds is pretty homogeneous.

Slowly add the flour, salt and baking powder, folding them in gently.
Clean your beaters and get a nice, clean bowl to whisk your egg whites in (if anything greasy touches egg whites, they won't whip.  In case you didn't know.  I really hope one of the delinquents I live with is reading this and figuring out some chemical reason for this).  Aaaaanywaay... whip the egg whites until stiff, but not dry.  They should hold peaks.

Trying not to deflate them too much, gently fold the whites into the rest of the batter.  Then scrape the batter into the pan and bake for about 1 hour (I'm not actually sure how long mine went for, because I had to run to English and had a friend take it out for me.  But about an hour.  And it was perfect).
Share it with your friends and remark upon how incredibly jewish this cake tastes.  It's one of those smells that makes me think of German bakeries and Fiddler on the Roof and good things like that.

Yeah, on the topic of jewishishness.  The astronomy teacher here is pretty religious, and he's been trying, through emails, to get me to go to a lot of services at what has to be the most northerly synagogue in New England.  Anyway, he asked me to come round to his classroom yesterday and introduce myself, which I did, and God.  I didn't feel like I was in The County at all.  I've never felt so liked for the necklace I was wearing... But it's kind of cool to know that there's one more person here to throw a little Yiddish around with.

And I'm still trying to get over how great people are here.  A load of us got locked out of study hall today and I had way too many books sliding around in my arms, and a guy on crutches took my laptop for me.  Insisted!  My god...

Oh, and last night, due to sickness and such, I went to the Residential office (it's just in the dorm lobby) to ask the cool Brit Lit guy who also makes sure that nobody kills anyone around here for some painkillers.  The exchange went something like this:

Me: Hey, please could I have a couple of ibuprofen?
Him: What's the complaint?
Me: Aaaaaaahhh... (I was thinking, okay?  I happened to have a lot of complaints)
Him: Okay, I've lived here long enough to know what that means (reaches for medication box as other staffmembers go crazy laughing).

I'm not easily embarrassed.  It was cool.

 Still very tired from being thusly hasta, so I'll go be responsible now.  Ish. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Illness and a Surprise

Nice to meet you, Tuesday.  Leave me alone.

I've been sick... running a low fever on and off since Sunday night.  There's something going around and hitting a lot of people badly enough to make them miserable but too gently to keep them in bed.  That and the rain are turning the dorms into something of an energy sink.  It's really not nice out, and I am not looking forward to biking tomorrow.  I went walking around campus today after classes, and twenty minutes wiped me, I'm just so tired.  Yesterday evening I slept on one of the lounge sofas for almost an hour.  I actually got myself a blanket - shameless.  I overslept this morning despite that, though it didn't matter because I get up at least two hours before I need to be anywhere.  Hung out in the kitchen, made turkish çay tea, ate the last of the gorgeous (I feel justified in saying this, yes) quiches I made on Sunday and chatted with one of the guys who gets to clean our kitchen instead of the cafeteria's.  A lot of the Beatles and Gilbert and Sullivan on the laptop.  And that extremely tame kick has sort of been today's highlight, so far.  The weekend was quiet but very nice, and I still didn't get all my homework finished.  I did, however, get to watch Casablanca and V for Vendetta.  Both were excellent and the latter was new for me.  Almost the best film I've seen. 

I'm failing maths.  Have I mentioned that before?  I'm one grade-point from being moved down, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.  The teacher for the non-accelerated course is meant to be fantastic, but if I can I want to stay on the faster course.  It's not particularly difficult material - I understand what's taught in class - but the one test we've taken so far was just evil.  I couldn't finish because there was so much of it, and it was horribly difficult, somehow.  I think a lot of people had trouble with it, though, and that's normal.

I'm not sure what to attach to this one in terms of pictures -- I'm sort of writing to put off editing an essay.  I hate what I've got so far, and I've got to fix it when all I really want to do is hide it in some folder and forget about it and never read it again. 

Some books I'd ordered came over the weekend, too.  My list, as soon as I'm done with Emma and Catch 22, goes:
The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe
Thunder From The East: Portrait of a Rising Asia
Three Cups of Tea

I can't wait to get to them.  I'm actually finding a lot more time for reading here than I used to.  I just hang around the lounge and throw myself over furniture and alternate homework, chatting and reading.  I love it and I'm off to do some of it now before structured study.

Okay, actually, I went out in the middle of writing this, and I've got a package!  I haven't excavated in full yet, but the day just got a lot better.  Spelt bread, butter, gouda and manchego cheese, some really delicious apples, dried tomatoes, mushrooms and beef, Nutella, crackers, cocoa powder and a note from my parents.  I am so glad I did not eat dinner.

With that I leave you to toil before the books of wisdom -- feeling just a little bit better.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Need Of Your Wisdom

I need to rename this blog, maybe even change the url.  I don't know what I was thinking, choosing such a specific title, and now, post-Turkiye, I feel rather foolish.  So, what should I do?  Give me some advice here, please.  That's what comments are for.  I want to turn this into more of a photography site, and be able to write about whatever interests me without the expectation of everything applying to the incredible time I spent in Ankara.  I'm at school now, and school has very, very little in common with what I did this summer, maalesef.

Well, September Eleventh does seem to have rolled round rather hard this year, no?  It doesn't help that it's currently Ramazan (Rosh Hashannah, too.  Happy New Year, people), but there is no excuse for the bigoted way in which some Americans are behaving.  It makes me very glad to have dual citizenship to hide in. Burning the Quran, indeed.  Of all the horrible, stupid ideas... Since being in Turkey, which is politically not an Islamic country but is populated with the most wonderfully friendly people I have ever had the good fortune to meet, the majority of whom happen to subscribe to Islam to some degree, American ignorance about Moslems grates on me even harder.  I hope what I've written about on this blog has done some good in that regard. 

I've got a shoot now, scheduled with a most beautiful classmate, and one does try to keep these appointments.  Therefore, though I cannot withdraw without regret from the company of you, my dear readers, withdraw I must.  We shall speak soon.  May we all be a little less prejudiced by the next time we talk.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I went to our wonderfully clever technology person here, and he fixed all my problems inside of a half hour despite being a total non-Mac person (this school's crawling with the infidels).  So, I am now able to upload photos!

They asked me to do a quick shoot.  They picked the laundry room, where the lighting is motion-activated and therefor totally unnegotiable, but everything worked out.  We must have been in there about 45 minutes, and I took hundreds of photos and had the best time ever.  I'm building up a rep, too.  People see my photography books lying around with kitchen implements I'd been sketching or whatever, and they know whose they are. 

I'm not done editing these (you'll see a couple of them need cropping), but I'm very pleased with them and my models are okay with being posted (on of these is his facebook profile anyway), so here you are.

Oh, other than that not much is going on... Not too much homework this weekend, except for a load that the tech teacher assigned.  He's big on positive/negative debates about technology, and today we watched clips about the benefits of WoW to society.  Yeah, I know.  But I've got to write some sort of paper about a good or bad aspect of some piece of modern technology...does that include food processors?  Electric toothbrushes?  Sliced bread?

I suppose I may as well make this one of those crazy posts with way too many pictures... Here are some of the weekend.

I have biking in a half hour, and I need to eat something.  Oh, I made chocolate cake last night.  Lots of fun.  I'm getting way too many kicks out of listening to the Beatles interspersed with Marina and the Diamonds... okay, bye.  Sizi özledim, ama şimdi internet var, ve herkes çok mutlu!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Problem of 'Stress Not Quite Covering It'

It's about half past ten at night and we just had a fire drill.  This involved absolutely everyone, all hundred-and-something students and all the res. staff, exiting the dorms through one very narrow door on my wing, right next to my room.  Delightful.  Then we huddled outside in the surprising cold - it rained a lot earlier and civil feet were with civil rain made cold - as the standard roll-call who's-missing oh-damn-we're-locked-out procedure took its course.  A dearth of clothing of the underneath variety rendered yours truly particularly chilly, but I got a kick out of just leaning against the wall and watching all these sheepish boys reenter through the girls' wing afterwards. 

And there aren't enough kicks to go around at the moment.  Stress Week.  Today I had another chemistry test - I got an eighty-something on the last one, which isn't bad for a first exam - and I think i went all right, but I spent all of Monday and esterday working on that and not the maths test or English paper that are both happening/due tomorrow.  So structured study was not fun.  I'd be working on the essay right now if I hadn't just bribed a neighbor with copious quantities of chocolate to proofread it. 

Oh, and someone convinced me to run for student senate.  I got all the nomination signatures I need, and I've decided that my platform will be returning to monarchical rule.  I'd also like to do something about the cafeteria.  It's sometimes all right, and actually can be very nice on weekends, but there's also a lot of really not-nice frozen food, and some simply illogical practices that could be easily remedied... such as the idiotic use of Idaho potatoes.  This is Northern Maine, people, get a grip!  That really frustrates me.  And it seems like the student government here actually gets its shit together and does things, which is cool.

In my attempts at avoiding the cafeteria, I've actually made some rather nice friends.  The kitchen is a good hang-out/faux-study spot, and tonight I made pasta and shared it with a few girls and talked about their boyfriends, etc.  I'm also becoming That Deranged Blonde With The Camera.  There's a guy here with really, really incredible style who wanted to join LookBook, and he needed photos of himself and a friend.  They asked me to take them, and we ended up having a 45-minute shoot in the laundry room, and we were all on top of the driers and I got some abfab and some rather risqué shots.  It's nice to have such a range of models, from study-geeks to such pantherine fashionistas.  I have another shoot planned for Saturday with a very pretty new friend, and I promise I'd be showing you all this if the internet here weren't so funky.  It replaces correctly-spelled profanity with *censored*, and I initially thought that blogger was fucking with my posts and shit, but it's just the goddamn bloody school filters (rebellion-inductive).  I can't seem to upload photos to blogger, either, or use iChat, and my mail programme won't send, though it can receive.  I've got to get to the tech guy and have it all straightened out, but for now you'll have to perch tensely on the edge of your chair and just keep refreshing this page. 

And my lovely next-door friend has just returned with notes on my disaster of a literacy narrative, so I'll sign off now.  Weekends used to be a nuisance, but they're becoming my drug... why is it only Wednesday?  No matter, I'm going to read a bit of Emma before bed tonight.  God, Austen is becoming my second-choice narcotic. 

Rosh Hashanah, happy new year.  The Jewish astronomy teacher is volunteering to take people to the nearest synagogue.  I think I'll go this weekend, just to see how they manage it up here.  

Oh, and the dorm dog got into my room today and ate my dried meat.  I've been leaving the door open because I've lost my key.  Whatever.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to the MSSM

Sorry, but the Beatles are the best.

I am back.  And not projecting from the future.  No, Turkish-speaking-Bacon-eating bloggirl is back online, and how*.  Let me work backwards for a bit here.

I came home this weekend because I of that eye appointment/fair, and I missed school yesterday.  Thank god I didn't have math class, because that would set me too far back for words.  No, but it'll be tough enough catching up with Chemistry.  Chemistry!  I have a science class that I like.  Someone is messing with cosmic cogs and levers at the moment, and I am liking, you know, math and science.  Earth-shaking.  Oh, actually, I saw my math teacher Anyway, I get home late Thursday night and on Friday I hung out with a couple friends, made blueberry peach cake, watched The West Wing and totally failed to take enough pictures of the beautiful town I live in and never really appreciated before.  Stayed up until about 2 a.m. making pie crust and talking to someone back at school - it sounds like I'm missing a wild weekend.  This morning I baked that pie (blueberry) and took it over to the fairground to enter.  My old school's jazzband plays for the harness races every year, but considering the torrential nature of this morning, the horses were kept home and the band played their set uninterrupted.  The bad director, whom I'd been a little scared to face after leaving him so suddenly - if temporarily - second trombone-less to come to this school, saw me and went and dedicated a song to me, with a cheery 'wishing her good luck at school up north'.  The man's either trying to guilt me into tears or okay with my leaving.  Either way, it was great to see my friends play, and after helping them break down we spent a couple hours doing Fair Things.  This means we spent a couple hours alternately cooing at cows and piglets and llamas, and eating.  How we ate.  I again forgot my camera, but I'm kind of glad because I do not want to remember what I've eaten today.  It was wonderful.  Smoked ribs, sticky buns, incredibly high-qual sausages, lobster roll, lime fizz.  Then I brought home my pie (came third this year - very happy) and ate some of that.  It was a little runny, which will be why it didn't take first, but all parties pronounced it yummy and that was fun.  This evening I didn't eat dinner, understandably, except for some cake my parent brought home from a neighbor's wedding.  I still have to do battle with chem, though.  And if you're thinking 'my god, this girl's a food slut,' you're only kind of right.  Because the food at school is frankly Not Good.  There's a kitchen in the dorm, and I cook myself stuff every day, but it's hard to find time to eat as took my performance today to convince my mother that I'm not developing anorexia.  This state of affairs, combined with biking class (we got through the most gorgeous rolling fields and toxic clouds of ozone) and maybe, maybe, my new tendency to NOT eat ten pieces of baklava every day, makes this weekend a total non-problem.  I'm actually feeling rather svelte.

I've tried LARPing (Live Action Role Playing, for those of you who, like me, don't know *censored* about that particular facet of 'geek culture').  It's a huge deal, played with swords and spears and various other weaponry composed of plastic piping, foam and duct tape.  I hate sig figs because they made me fail a quiz, but I feel like I did all right on a chemistry test on Wednesday.  I love my AP composition class to death, and the teacher is starting a photography club!  I'm starting to save for a new that, um, zooms?  And I've taken hundreds of photos already... god knows my classmates' antics are worthy of being recorded.  I also just heard that I got into the a cappella group, which practices for four hours every weekend.  I auditioned Wednesday and didn't think it went very well, but I'm really excited to have gotten in.

Oh, god, what else.... have I made it completely clear that I love it there?  The classes are extremely demanding and I'm doing three to four hours of homework every evening, but the other students are fantastic, the teachers actually care and there's not this feeling of just going through the motions.  Last weekend there was a dance where people actually danced, and this week it was horribly hot.  This hurricane was preceded by the most awful, stagnant heat, and inland Maine is like the midwest anyway - there's no medium, it's either stifling or bitterly cold.  I feel a little boxed in there without being able to smell the sea, and I'm sure winter will be hard... but I'll worry about that when it happens.

And now that I'm back to dull old Maine again, lots of my friends are flinging themselves across the planet.  AFS is heart-wrenching for those left behind.

Well, I have to go be excited to go back to school.  Or, rather, do maths homework.  Both.  I actually can't wait.  I missed my friends here like mad, and it's been fantastic to see them this weekend, but I'm ready to go home now, for another two weeks.

And there are other ukulele people!  One girl has an electric one...and I'm playing ukulele in the band!  Marilyn, move over.
And I do apologise for this post: haphazard even by my standards.  But there is no way I'm reading it over.  Just don't care that much about sentence structure tonight.
Herkesi sizi seviyorum!

*blame Lorna Lilly for that particularly contagious bit of the '50s

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Son Gün Evde (Last Day At Home)

Ahh... my last day at home was lovely.  I spent it with a very good friend, and we finished packing, went to the beach, watched A Bit Of Fry And Laurie on YouTube (sweet, unblocked YouTube) and loaded up the car.  After she left, I and my parents made a lovely dinner: grilled salmon, chard with bacon and a gorgeous mushroom risotto, stirred to perfection by yours truly.  Carrot cake left over from the Celebrity Spelling Bee fundraiser the night before - remind me to tell y'all* about that later - was dessert, along with a big bowl of grapes, and followed by a lovely deep bath.  

Yes, those are my darling pink converse, pictured here on the shore of Turkey's Salt Lake.  They get around, and now I am wearing them up on the Canadian border.

Guys, look up a certain individual named Dan Savage.  Just do it.

That's about all.  Enjoy September.

On and on
Say that you remember
On and on
Dancing in September
On and on
Never was a cloudy day...

*I am missing my friend from Georgia.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If You Are Reading This...

The Future is happening.  Not some stupid sci-fi thing, I'm just scheduling this to post in a few days when I'll be at MSSM without any internet... god.  Yeah.  No.  The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is the only science fiction I ever actually enjoyed, and I have read a lot of sci-fi.  But, yeah, whatever.  Right now, or last Friday, I was/am waiting for a friend to show up for a last bit of time together.  My suitcase was/is zipped up, making me absurdly proud of my negotiating skills, because that baby was/is bursting.  No heavy dinnerware in it this time.... My new Le Creuset is/was in another bag.  The only things on my bed now were/are my laptop (which I really hope(d) the school people won't/wouldn't go through and do god-knows/knew-what to all my music and documents and photos while they scan(ed) for viruses), camera, and a small backpack full  of helva and turkish coffee.  That's the bag I'm going to keep close at hand for the first few weeks- in case at any point I realize I'm actually checking into some government-prison-spy-highsecurity THING that I don't want to be part of, because really, I put in my time with the US government this summer - for trekking out into the frozenness with.  Good, compact calories, you see.  I must practice making igloos, too. 

So, who knows what will/has take(n) place since now/then.  Maybe I've become a homesick wreck, which I can't/couldn't quite imagine now/5 days ago, as I feel/felt sort of checked out of my family for these (next) two weeks*.  Perhaps everything is/will be great and I will be/am just itching to put these great photos up of all my new friends and be a nerd and talk about my amazing chem class.  Or the .com crash (read: apocalypse), which would render this existential crisis of a post a total waste of my time and confusion.  Let's hope not, retrospectively and otherwise, and I'm going to stop now before this starts making sense.

*The first long weekend isn't until a month into school, but I have a conveniently-scheduled optician's appointment on the weekend of the local fair. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Test Of Sorts/Goodbye

I am trying to figure out whether Blogger's notoriously sketchy 'scheduled post' button works.  So, if all goes well, by the time you read this I'll have actually gotten up and dressed and fed myself and ridden around a bit on my new *bike!* and be frantically finishing my packing.

I've been saying goodbye all week.  I had a few friends over to have lobsters, and our malevolent dinners rendered us all more sticky and juicy and pungent than they themselves started off.  No matter, it was delicious, and afterward we retired to The Barn, which should really just be my official residence for all the time I spend there, and watched WallE.  Because it is seriously the sweetest movie ever made, possibly beating even E.T.  But I'm not going to pit them against one another, there's a generational advantage here.

Ever tried to play table football (though I understand that Americans call this "foosball") with a strobelight on? 

Because I am a bitch to myself, I'm going to remind you all and myself where I was two weeks ago by throwing you one İstanbul photo I absolutely failed to put up before. 

I'm smelling good things from downstairs, so I am going to put on some clothes now, seeing as one of my mother's granola bitches (she's hired a couple boys from my old high school) is probably down there, and go have what may be the last good breakfast of my life.  We'll see. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gosh, I got a lot done today.  I guess that's what happens when you get up at seven-thirty.  I mean, by half past eight I was in town at a quick meeting with a lady who works at Mamello English School.  It's a school in Lesotho, mainly attended by HIV positive, disabled or orphaned children, and I did my bat mitzvah charity work raising money for it with a charity spelling bee.  We're organizing another bee fundraiser for the school together this year, and we needed to go over a few details.  After that, to the supermarket to buy them out of dry goods for my dorm kitchen.  Onwards to other shops for things such as chef's knives, a mobile phone and a Hepatitis vaccine.  That one was all right until I started reading the information sheet that the nurse gave me afterwards.  Shudder.  Oh, and an eye appointment for contact lenses!  I have, I'm told, a very strong blink reflex.  I took the things out just now before having a bath, as on the first day one is only meant to wear them for four hours, and I got the second one on my first try!  They're very difficult to put in, and my eyes are a little sore now, but it's just magical to be able to see perfectly with no glasses.  I'll get used to dealing with them, and it's so nice (if strange) not to have anything on my face.  I shall probably decide to start wearing eye makeup a little more regularly (which means the happy coincidation - why isn't that a word? - of my remembering, having time and caring enough to deal with it), because my lashes are so pale they are actually invisible, and I look very different without frames, but no matter.  With a class schedule that doesn't start up until NINE THIRTY every day, I can afford to spend a little more time getting ready.  At the moment, though, I'm just spending time getting excited.

A friend who's been away almost as long as me this summer just got back home, and I am going to have people over sometime this week to say goodbyes and parti.  Tomorrow holds blueberry fields and a final visit to the cinema before I venture into the vast and internet-less depths of the first two weeks of school.

Yes, you read that right.  I shall have to figure out how to auto-post.

Another note: I have decided to be more cynical.  Not in life - I don't know that I could.  I mean here.  I feel that I have been deceiving you, my dear sweet millions, my gasping, adoring masses, of my true nature.  You may not like it, and I may not care - unless you are reading this in a country with a truly gorgeous flag, in which case I adore you with every fibre of my heart not already possessed by baklava - but we shall manage, shan't we?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Video - Call To Prayer

This is from one of my favourite web comics, Cat and Girl.  I thought, given the way I've indulged in the belowmentioned sweet this summer, I might post it to see if anyone else thinks it's funny. 
And, now that I'm back in the states where there's no national YouTube block, I can give you videos!  Here is the call to prayer, finally.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Home Again - Temporarily

Ah, well.  I suppose this is just a time to catch my breath between Turkey and School.  It's all so impossibly short.  But hey.  I am back on my laptop, and the funny thing is that I'm having trouble adjusting back to US keyboards!  I keep reaching up to the 1 key to type an apostrophe, and I'm almost nostalgic for all those ı characters now.

Home is a funny place to be now.  The last six weeks were full of a lot of food, music and new friends - people I feel incredibly fortunate to have met.  I have been conscious in the last few days of just smiling at one memory or another, and having to snap out of it quickly before somebody decides I'm in love or up to no good.

I miss Turkey, and everything is still so fresh in my mind that I can't quite convince myself in the mornings that instead of going to school to see Arzu Hanım and wander Ankara with my friends, I am going to go downstairs, see the granola in production, and leave to babysit my darling five month-old friend from New York , and prepare for school, something I'd completely put off thinking about while in Turkey.  It's not that I'm not happy to be home.  I am.  But when I get on my computer, all I want to do is look at photos from this summer, and all I want to speak to people about is Turkey, in turkish.  Part of my head thinks I'm still there, but Im slowly catching on.  Today I will eat no simit from street stalls, catch no sweaty buses, and I probably won't even sweat. 

After my host family went to America, I moved in with my grandparents.  They and my eight-year-old cousin from İstanbul, who was also staying with them, don't speak much English, which was great for me.  I caught a dolmuş home in the afternoons instead of the bus, which was a little different and fun for the three days I had to do it, and, despite my host mother's fears that I would be fed to death, it was all great.  

Last Friday (I can't believe I was so far away a week ago) we had a party at school, with cake and certificates and many hugs with our teachers and waiter and a lot of photos.  The previous day we'd given Arzu Hanım a present - a lovely vase, flowers and a framed picture of the class and her, from my camera, and everything was pretty fantastic.

Actually, though, it was what happend after school on Friday that made the day a little special.  I walked a different route to Kızılay with two classmates, and we found ourselves looking at the magnificent Kocatepe Mosque, perhaps Ankara's only beautiful building.  A man came up to us on the street and somehow we ended up following him inside this mosque, which was perhaps even as stunning as the Aya Sofia and Sultan Ahmet ones in İstanbul.  We left our shoes at the door and I and my friend - the other was (and still is, I suppose) a boy - were brought headscarves, and god.  That place was beautiful in a way that made me understand religion a little bit.  If there was a faith centred on building places like that, I would be a crazed believer.

We are Americans.  This means that every experience, every day, no matter how authentic, fascinating or ethnically correct, must include Starbucks.  We walked to the one on Kızılay.  It was there that this gorgeous baby girl who was just learning to walk stumbled up to us and started to play with me.  Maybe I was still high on that mosque, but she made me so happy just by putting her snacks in my lap and letting me feed them to her, and after a few minutes, her mother called me 'abla'.  Big sister.  Lovely.

(I'm making it sound as if I really adore babies, aren't I?  Actually, I don't... they're here, and I'm here, and we get along all right, but don't pull my hair too hard or it's back to Mama.)

It was there that the goodness stopped, though.  I walked from Starbucks with a friend to his apartment to pick up his power adaptor so that I could charge my camera before going to İstanbul the next day, and on my way back to catch the dolmuş I saw a kid get hit by a car.

Turks drive like maniacs, and I heard a scream on the other side of the street and saw this little girl - she must have been about six - on the asphalt with the wheel of a taxi almost on top of her.  A huge crowd gathered as her mother grabbed her and dragged her to the pavement.  They were both screaming, which was a relief - at least the poor thing was alive.  I didn't realize until later that i understood what her mother was screaming at the taxi driver, as I watched people check this child over, pour water on her, pull out their mobile phones to call an ambulance.  I was thoroughly shocked, but there were at least fifty people there and I couldn't be of any help.  I carried on getting home, but was really shaky the rest of the afternoon.

That night, or the next morning really, at 1:30 am, we all met up at the bus station to catch our otobus to İstanbul.  I said goodbye to my grandparents and got on, and we all drifted in and out of consciousness for seven hours.  Then we got to İstanbul and I wished I'd slept solidly,  because what followed was a half hour of lugging overpacked bags through that crazy city, which, at eight in the morning, was just beginning to spill its hungover soul back into the streets and start to party again.

What followed was a day of sickness, reunitation with the İstanbul NSLI-Y crowd (we were a lucky group - they fought the whole six weeks and there was some t e n s i o n), more Starbucks, a gorgeous nighttime boat tour of the Bosphorus, and crazed hanging out in hotel rooms until five in the morning.

I was not destined to sleep the next day, either, for flights are delayed and shit happens.  And the strangest thing happened after we had 'de-planed'.  What a word.  Anyway, a turkish woman heard me talking to one of the other AFSers about my school, and she interrupted to say she knew it!  Turned out, she was a professor at the Florida Institute of Technology and had a student who went to MSSM a few years ago!  The world just keeps getting smaller...

Anyway, I'm home now and have far too much to do.  I have to go now, so I'll put a thousand pictures on this post later.

Oh, and isn't this just the Summer of Gay Rights?  Argentina, Mexico, now California again?  Keep it coming!

Hoş çakal!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Well, this may be the last opportunity I have to post until I get back to the States.  We fly on Sunday, but my host family is actually off to America for a holiday tomorrow, so I'm staying with my host-grandparents until Friday night.  Our bus to İstanbul leaves Ankara at 1:30 am Saturday.  I am stunned by this information and have no comprehension of why anyone let alone (or even?  Some of them are pretty nuts) AFS would schedule such a thing.  No matter, we shall reach İstanbul early and spend an exhausting day basking in its glory before flying home Sunday.  I'm excited to see the İstanbul NSLI-Y group, and the other AFS Turkey summer people who weren't on this scholarship, and the 12 days I have at home are something I'm looking forward to

(Things I am going to eat: blueberries, rare meat, spelt bread, lobster, Maine mussels, greens from my family's garden, pork, distinct from bacon, and a lot of fruit desserts)

And I'm half-scared, half-excited for this nutty school I'm going to.  But, guys, I've just spent my summer in Türkiye.  I am just beginning to feel confident with this language, as if I could really do well if I could study it more.  The heat doesn't bother me as much as it used to - at the beginning of this trip, every day on the bus I would feel this slick of sweat on my back just slide hotly and roll down the backs of my legs, and now I can actually make it through the day conscious of something other than 'God, what did this part of the world do to deserve this?' - and I adore the food like nothing else.  The people are friendly and, for the most part, not too creepy, and I love my family and my teacher and my new friends. 

Oh, I dıdn't realıse I was leavıng NOW. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

İstanbul, The Drug (Alternatively, Give Me A Bag Of Hot Chestnuts And I'm Yours Forever)

It was not a weekend you'd want to get in a fight with.  Thankfully, we got on quite well, and the only blow it dealt was to whatever energy reserves I had left after four weeks here.  And, don't mısunderstand me, that was a blow I'm stıll recovering from now, on Thursday, but, god, ıt was worth it.  İstanbul... imagine whatever you've heard about that heady, glorious, ancient, modern, ridiculous, exquisite city, and then think of your most recent sauna experience.  İstanbul never sleeps.  hiç.

It's late, so this is going to be a really disorganized post.  In no particular order, here is what we (my host mother, sister, various friends and an aunt, and me) did.

We ate kokoreç, a sandwich of grilled sheep intestines.  They sell it on the street as a sort of snack food, 24 hours a day, due to the insomniacal (word?) nature of İstanbul.  It's actually really tasty, and my only problem was that it was very spicy.  There were also mussel shells stuffed with lovely rice all around the mussel, and deep-fried mussels on sticks.  I must bring these techniques back home to Maine, where we have, in my completely objective and unbiased opinion, the best mussels in the world.  Türkiye comes in a close second.

Went to both the Aya Sofiya and Sultan Ahmet mosques.  Aside from being impossibly beautiful, my favourite thing about them is the way one resulted in the other.  Aya Sofiya was originally a cathedral, and when the Ottomans came in they built the Sultan Ahmet mosque directşly opposite it to show the Christians what was what.  The two make this gorgeous mirror of one another, and there are fountains and corn and chestnut (oh, the chestnuts... I'd only seen them sold by the Paris metro before, and how I love them.  Chestnuts were the last thing I ate in 2009,  The first thing I ate this year was sea urchin roe) vendors and rose gardens in between.  The Aya Sofiya is a museum now, and the inside is not only gorgeous but going through a centuries-long religious identity crisis.  It's got arabic written all over it, and the tiling and wall art is typicaşlly İslamic, but there are still paintings of Mary and Jesus and the angel Gabriel on the ceilings. 

The Sultan Ahmet mosque is still very much functioning as such.  When my host mother and I went in, we were given plastic bags for our shoes and big squares of light blue cloth for our heads.  The inside is carpeted and just as enormously impressive as the Aya Sofiya, but differently decorated.  There were tourists all over, it beıng a very famous spot with good reason, but also some people praying, etc. etc.  The women have to pray in this tiny enclosed area with high wicker walls, and I think it's just awful.  But it was incredible to see the two buildings one after another.  I really wished my Dad (the, um, biological one, in Maine) had been there to see it.  He's an architect and would have loved the whole thing and driven me nuts with all the history of the building techniques and all.

In İstanbul, there are burqas everywhere.  Here in Ankara you see plenty of headscarves, but I've only seen about two full-length anythıngs in the five weeks I've been here (I know.  5 week left and I don't know how I'll leave).  But in İstanbul, so many women go about with just their eyes showing through a slit, walking a step behind their husbands.  They're mostly tourists from İran, Pakistan and other nearby İslamic countries, but gosh.  Everywhere.  I almost died from the heat and humidity in my shorts and tank top, and I just can't imagine what it's like to go around day after day wearing long, heavy black - or, in one instance last weekend, purple - robes.  As if it weren't enough, you couldn't tell if most of these womens' husbands were secular or fanatically observant from the way they dress.  Insult to injury, or just plain cultural misogyny? 

The Grand Bazaar and Taksim (this incredibly long shoppıng street, probably the busıest in Turkey) are amazing, too.  I bought some spices, a(nother) cushion, too much Turkish delight (which turns out to be a) actually from Turkey and b) delicious c) screw C. S. Lewis, those books were preachy and boring) and a couple other presents for my family, and there are these men sellıng ıce cream that ıs somehow stretchy.  They throw ıt around on sticks to atract customers. 

Let's see, what else... The U2 poster is just somethıng I saw around İstanbul...I went to their 360 concert in London last August, and it wsa great, so it was cool to see they're coming here. 

There are a lot of stray cats everywhere ın Turkey.  Oh, and I figured out the colour settings on my camera!  I feel so stupid for not finding them for a whole month and a to read that manual one of these days.  Anyway, my life is a bit of a black-and-white fest at the moment.  I got henna-ed, apparently ın the Pakistani/İndian style (turkish henna is oranger, I'm told) yesterday, which was lots of fun for 5 Lira. 

Oh, and my host-aunt, the one who lives in the Black Sea region, is pregnant!  We might go back up there this weekend to see her. 

It's too late to arrange all these photos, I'll come back and edit this post later.  For now you'll just have to figure it out.  You can do it.

İyi geceler.