Sunday, August 26, 2007

Goodbye Fair City

It's early yet and everyone else is still sleeping. I got very little sleep with the ceiling fan dismantled and no breeze whatsoever. So before the chaos begins in a few hours, I have a little time to breathe and enjoy the quiet. Bursa, my fair city of the last year and half, thank you for the warm welcome. I have found my feet in this country while wandering down your shady green streets. How I enjoyed exploring your villages, especially Cumalikizik, and drinking your fresh mountain water. Of course, one of my lifetime memories occurred in your botanic park--my wedding day. And you were the first glimpse of Turkey for my family. I carved my first snowboarding tracks in your mountains and your snow cushioned my ass more times than I could count. Kervansaray hosted my first hamam (Turkish bath) experience, as well as my second and third and fourth. . . . Goodbye.

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Towers of boxes and bubble-wrapped masses surround me. Finally, most things are in a box or bag or bucket or trash can or any other container that can be stuffed. I suppose the one positive aspect of moving is it makes you want to simplify--get rid of all the non-essentials that just build up in your life. I plan to cut my wardrobe by at least half as well as my shoe collection. I'm not a very big shopper but I've still managed to acquire way more than I need. Maybe it's the Taurus in me. But at least I can say that I have much less than I did when I moved from the states. At that point, a couple of my friends from Peace Corps came by to help and hang out. I was getting rid of 6 bags of clothing and tons of shoes as well as camping equipment (which was the hardest to part with). I came to Turkey with just 2 large suitcases and my laptop. (ok, I guess it's only fair to mention that I did get charged for having too much weight, but damn that's only because of the massive bottles of JD's).

My mother-in-law and her friend help pack in the kitchen

Now, outside of clothes, I think we have way too much kitchen equipment. In this flat we were spoiled with a full-surround of cabinets to put it all in. In fact, we still had empty space. But in our Istanbul flat the kitchen is much smaller and storage is severely lacking. I can't blame myself for all the kitchen stuff though. Most of it was given to us for our wedding especially by my mother-in-law. I'm not ungrateful. I just begin to question the point of it all after wrapping my 200th plate or trying to find space for the third Turkish teapot.

I'd really like to just get the truck today and be out of here. I hate the feeling of being in limbo. I guess it's a good thing I'm not Catholic because purgatory would be worse than hell for me. Alas, we must wait till morning. In a little bit Ev will show up. LUcky him! He got to skip this whole ordeal and be in Istanbul. Really, Damn him!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Crisis of Boxy Proportions

Monkey on the Magic Shelf
Originally uploaded by bursajane
Oooef, Mr. Shelf Monkey! How am I supposed to pack things when I have no boxes?? Why is Cemalatin Bey not bringing them? We asked him weeks ago and have been reminding him ever since and then declaring that the matter was URGENT because the time was near. Now the time is this weekend. The moving truck will show up on Sunday morning. Is it any wonder that moving is on my top 10 list of Least Favorite Activities?

I returned from Istanbul yesterday evening. Yesterday was my interview at the newspaper. Things went well or I suppose they did since I got the job. The whole thing was very informal as all of my past interviews here in Turkey have been. We went and had tea down in the cafe. There was some small talk. I asked some questions. Emrah Bey glanced rather halfheartedly at the application form I had filled out and asked a few questions about my work history. Then we went back upstairs to the newsroom and I introduced myself to the other editors. I sat with them for awhile and bombarded them with questions which they were all very good about. Then they showed me the editing platform that I would be working with. After that I went to find Emrah B. and see if there was anything else that I needed to do. He walked me back down to the entrance and the driver brought me back to Ev's office building. Ev and I stopped briefly at a car dealership to shop for his work car. Then we raced off to the Yenikapi ferry terminal so I could catch the 2:30 back to Bursa.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Give Me a Swirl
Originally uploaded by bursajane
Today is our 1st anniversary. The wall art in this picture best describes my take on the last year--dizzyingly colorful, wild, swirly, and all somehow fitting together to make a cohesive whole.

Ev is my soul. I can't imagine walking this journey without him. I can live anywhere in this world, but Ev is my only home.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ahh Sweet Summer

Originally uploaded by bursajane
Today, I was reminded that though my current situation may not be ideal, I still have plenty to be thankful for. Beyond the last week I've actually had a really sweet summer. It started in May when I left for Crete to volunteer with Archelon--the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece. This organization takes volunteers from all over the world to help monitor, protect, and educate about the endangered loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). I spent a month camped only a few hundred feet off of Matala beach. Above this beach dotting the cliff sides are the famed "hippy caves." These caves not only housed free spirits from all over the globe in the 60's, they also hold Greek and Roman tombs from as early as the 1st century. My favorite part of the Archelon experience was the early morning beach walks to monitor for turtle activity. There's nothing like being the first one on the beach in the morning in that special quiet when the only sounds are the lapping of the waves on the shore.

Since I ferried from Turkey to Crete, I got to spend a few days on the island of Rhodes. I had a great time exploring the old city but will post about that at another time. From Rhodes, I ferried back to the Turkish city of Marmaris in mid-June. Here I took my first scuba diving lessons with the Deep Sea Diving Co. I'd been wanting to try diving for awhile and had been especially inspired by all the diving tales and photos of a friend of mine living on Saipan. While my first dives left me pretty lightheaded, I'm itching to go back for more. The underwater world is like a magical sphere for me. I understand how people can become addicted to diving. After my diving trips, Evren travelled down from Bursa and we spent the rest of the week in Marmaris swimming, eating calamari, and wandering on the shore.

In July, Ev and I decided to escape the heat and took off to Akcay. A small town on the shores of the Aegean. These were days of pure relaxation. I stayed in the sea as much as possible. And since most Turks seem to like to stay close to the shore, I had the rest of the open sea to myself. Sometimes I feel such a connection to the water that I wonder if I wasn't some sort of sea creature in my last life. During our time in Akcay, I also got to meet one of Ev's best friends from high school along with his family. They happened to be staying in the next little town and invited us over for Turkish barbecue (et mangal) at their summer house. Mmmm, good times.

4 a.m

Ode to insomnia. This is the third night that I haven't slept. I could no longer just lay there staring at the pattern of light coming through the bamboo blinds. Yet, I don't want to be at this over-bright screen either. I talked to Ev for a long time on the phone. He hasn't slept for 5 days. I wonder if we are somehow channeling each other's sleeplessness, invading one another's thoughts. Perhaps this is the edge of some psychotic breakdown. I have been sick for the last few days and completely devoid of energy. The days have turned into a mad little hamster run. I can't stop the wheel and am nauseated from trying.

Friday, August 17, 2007

but I'm too new to be censored!

This is the second time I've tried to start a blog today. The first began with Wordpress and things were going fine. Then, this afternoon when I tried to access my 2 entries I got a blocked message in Turkish and English. I couldn't think of anything in my entries that could possibly instigate censorship. Finally, I accessed my blog through a proxy and read through it carefully. The entries still sounded completely benign to me. After that I tried to access the main Wordpress page and then other Wordpress blogs and got the same block. I then realized it wasn't me. The censoring authorities had blocked all of Wordpress and who knows what they found offensive this time! Below is the message that pops up.

Bu siteye erişim mahkeme kararıyla engellenmiştir.

T.C. Fatih 2.Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi 2007/195 Nolu Kararı gereği bu siteye erişim engellenmiştir.

Access to this site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/195 of T.C. Fatih 2.Civil Court of First Instance.

So my fellow former wordpress users in Turkey, I hereby lodge my protest and disgust.

Extreme Mind Shifts: Portland to Istanbul

So now that we’re slightly past the shock and awe of rejection, we’ve made a new plan. And out of pure necessity we’ve made it fast–we have to be out of this flat by the end of the month. The vision is no longer a move to green Portland, OR, but one to hyper-metropolis Istanbul.

We have lived in the green city of Bursa at the foot of the Uludag mountains for the last year and a half. I like this city and not just for its well-known abundance of trees. Bursa has a feeling of peace and easy-going. I can drive the streets here without feeling as if every trip will be my last (as is true for me in Istanbul). This past winter I got my intro to snow(butt)boarding in the Uludag mountains. These mountains are not of the height of my Sierra or even San Bernardino peaks but they are still the tallest in Turkey and it has given me topographical comfort to have them towering above me.

The streets of my neighborhood have the steeply rolling effect of those in San Francisco. Everything I need is in short walking distance. I can buy fresh fat peaches, a slab of meat and hot bread right across the street! A bus stop lies about 30 feet from the front entrance. My favorite restaurants are a mere 2 blocks down the hill. From our penthouse flat, we have wonderful views of the city and the green zone (which is an area of trees and fallow fields in a non-development zone).

Yes, I will miss Bursa. It’s where I grew into Turkey. But I’m also ready for a change. Istanbul offers a wider array of career options as well as great Turkish language schools (which are unavailable in Bursa). I wish I could skip the whole moving process. It’s on my top 10 list of least favorite things. Ooef, need to find boxes.

Expat or Exile?

It was a regular Saturday afternoon. Evren and I had slept late. We were just stirring and deciding on what to do for brunch when the bell rang signaling someone was downstairs wanting to be buzzed in. Evren hurriedly threw on some clothes and ran to hit the unlock button. My brain emerged from the fog of sleep and I realized that this could only be one person. The person we’d been waiting for all week–the UPS man who would bring Ev’s passport with the anticipated U.S. residency visa. Evren opened the front door and yelled back to me, “This is it!” He came to the bedroom and tossed me the plastic envelope and then went back to the door to pay the delivery guy. I was in the process of ripping it open when Ev swooped back into the room, grabbed the envelope from my anxious hands and ran into the living room with it. “They denied it!” Ev shrieked. He’s joking with me, I thought. They told us everything was Ok at our interview.

When he appeared at our bedroom door with a crestfallen face, I knew it wasn’t a joke. He handed me the paper and his passport. It cited some minor convictions that Ev had from his college days in the states almost a decade ago. I was in utter disbelief and slowly leafed through the pages of his passport thinking that a mistake must have been made. The visa must be there.

The news hit me slowly like a backhoe burying me alive. I was suffocating. We’d sold the car, notified our landlord, and had jobs waiting for us on our arrival. My family was so excited. They hadn’t seen us since the wedding a year ago here in Turkey. My only brother’s first child had been born in my absence. A beautiful daughter that I had only met over a web cam. I was finally going to be able to show Ev my childhood haunts and have him meet the people that meant so much to me. I watched these hopes turn to smoke with a few phrases on a green sheet of paper.

We were in a daze in the days following that moment. However, we were able to consult lawyers who only confirmed that there was very little we could do and that we would also be refused from Canada and Australia.

It’s now been just a week since we got that news. The news that will take us on an entirely different path. This blog will follow that path.