Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ugly sides and sleep dep

Divorce can bring out the ugliest sides of people. It is a hard thing to observe, and to be the target of. I think signing the terms earlier this week finally brought home to him that this is really happening. And then came the anger, the tirade, the cruel words.

I have a hard time sleeping nowadays. Last week, went for 5 days straight without any sleep at all. Now I get a few hours, but wake around 4 and can't get back to sleep. Tomorrow, at least, is my last day at the paper. So I will no longer have to try to edit with my sleep-deprived brain, and perhaps I will finally be able to kick this cold, which has been hanging on for almost 2 weeks.

One bright spot this week was seeing the Buena Vista Social Club in concert with a friend on Tuesday night at Santralistanbul. There's nothing like dancing your ass off to make the world disappear for awhile.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fault lines

Island nation,

Once a haven between cold-shouldered continents

Was it the eruption

The molten fingers diffusing across your topography

suffocating every frond in their path

Liquid heat

consuming even the fire ants

Or the tremor,

8.3 on the Richter scale

Severing the last connection of your faulty earth

A trembling even the ancient roots

could not withstand

With jagged edges

Two broken masses float apart

Lost at sea

avoiding the continents at either side

The pool of faces crammed at coastlines

hoping to catch a glance

Of this phenomenon.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Oh, the twisted irony. Only hours after writing that last post on Embracing diversity, I was faced with news that knocked me down. I don't know how you feel about the social networking site Facebook, but for me it had been a good way to stay in touch with my family and friends spread all around the planet.

And then on Friday night, it also became the herald of news that would rock my world. I received a message in which it was revealed to me that my husband has been cheating -- from the very woman he has been cheating with. I was working a late night at the paper, and of course, was simply blown away by this. In a matter of minutes we shot several messages back and forth. I further found that he had rented another flat across the city where they could engage in their liaison.

Then I headed out to the hall shaking in anger to confront him over the phone, as he was on a business trip in Italy. When I got a hold of him, he said he was coming back early -- that same night -- to "explain" what had happened.

The quickly alternating emotions I'm experiencing now have no comparison to anything else I've ever been through. The betrayal, I will never understand how he could take my love and stomp on it, take my trust and shatter it into a million little pieces. Now, I'm left questioning so many other instances, that in hindsight could have been... Where do the lies end and the truth begin?

The pain can be very physical at times. A visceral desolation, stabbing loneliness, a smashed heart. I am in turns punching pillows, crying through the night, resisting the urge to send hateful SMSs (and then not resisting).

For me, cheating is a giant deal breaker. It's the one thing that I will never negotiate on. It is the utmost disrespect. So I am now looking into Turkish divorce law and seeking an English-speaking attorney. My brother, who went through a similar experience with his first wife, has been my greatest supporter during this time, though he is across the ocean, even offering to drop everything and fly over here. Though I have a tendency to not reach out to people when I need them, I realize that this is a time when I'm going to need all the support I can get. So one by one I've been breaking the news to friends. And writing this also helps to push it further into my reality when I'm tempted to run the other way, deny that things have gone so very wrong.

To all those who have been in this position, I now have the utmost respect for you. For getting through this and somehow moving forward, making the huge mental, emotional shift. Embracing adversity.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Embracing adversity

The Paris Review did an interview with author Marilynne Robinson. The excerpt below really struck a chord with me, capturing the concept that we can embrace adversity, instead of shrinking from it, as something that is an integral part of the human experience. And by doing so, also hold onto the knowledge that we are never alone in our experience, even in our darkest days.

"People are frightened of themselves. It’s like Freud saying that the best thing is to have no sensation at all, as if we’re supposed to live painlessly and unconsciously in the world. I have a much different view. The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Heading back into the world

Photo courtesy of Marina & Enrique

I keep meaning to blog and then I get home, lose the motivation, get caught up in other activities, and don't -- and now it's a full month later since my last post. So much has happened in that period, both in the world and in my own little piece of it.

Turkish local elections were held across the country on March 29 -- the ruling party again took the biggest share of the vote, though with a drop in its percentages compared to the general elections of 2007.

Obama made his Turkey visit on April 6-7, backing Turkey's bid for the EU, encouraging a speedy normalization of relations between Turkey and Armenia, and making general overtures to the Muslim world, in attempts to begin to heal the huge rift formed by the Bush administration.

As for my world, one big news item -- I gave notice to my editor-in-chief of my upcoming resignation on May 1. It's finally time to move on from this 6-day-a-week madness, though really, it's been a good experience. I've found it amusing how my mother-in-law gives me flack, usually only jokingly, about working for a conservative Islamic-leaning paper. She's a staunch secularist and thus believes the paper I work for and especially its parent, Zaman, are a mouthpiece of the ruling AK Party. She likes to mimic ripping the paper to pieces and joke that if I worked here too long I would end up wearing the Muslim headscarf and skirts down past my ankles.

I've seen many an editor and other news staff come and go in the past year and 8 months, made friends whom I'll hopefully be able to keep in touch with, and honed a skill that will likely come in useful in the future. But now, I'm just itching to get to the final day and be outa here and on to my next venture.

After a quick trip to the States for a friend's wedding and to visit family, I'll be back in the Bul briefly and then off for a summerlong trip. First stop: Nepal. Now Nepal is a place I've been trying to get to since my post-Peace Corps trip. But somehow, my traveling bud, Ingrid, and I just didn't make it. Plus it wasn't the best time to visit.

So this time I'm planning on doing the Annapurna Circuit, a classic trek that I've been enamored with ever since one of my uni. professors gave a slide show of his trip on the circuit, even if the monsoon hits a bit early. I'm ready to slog it. After Nepal I'll be heading down to southern India, then on to Malaysia to drop off my trekking gear at a friend's place. Then a free for all through Southeast Asia and up to China. Then backtrack and possibly back to India to do northern and central sections.

This trip will serve several purposes besides soothing my itchy feet for a bit. It will also be a trial break between my partner and I, as we've been going through some really rough times in our relationship. The summer apart will give us both some much-needed space to decide where we want to go from here. It's also meant to get me back to green, back to wide open spaces, particularly my time in Nepal. The Bul has gotten to be a bit much, evidenced by a flare up of rage when people bump into me or slug me with their bags on the way past and don't say a single word. I know that I need to chill, which for me means getting away from it all.

I don't have a set date for returning. On past trips it has become clear when it's time to head home. I just wake up one day and realize that I'm tired of being on the road and feel an intense longing for my own bed. And that's when I'll book a tic back to the Bul.

As for my relationship: What happens when you fall so far off the path that you had first envisioned together? How do you find your way back or to a whole new place together? Is it even possible? These are things that both of us are pondering, among others.

I'm also wondering if it is a cultural thing that my Turkish mother-in-law thinks she can come in and fix everything between me and Evren. It's not helping that she has taken sides and made known that she is against her son. I'm not sure how to break it to her (plus my Turkish doesn't cover the vocabulary necessary) that it's not possible to "fix" a 32-year-old man. And that anything that is "broken" in our marriage needs to be dealt with by us. And anyways, she and Evren are in Italy until Sunday, so I have a bit of time to figure this out.