Tag Archives: Life

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Photo Credit: http://www.jerkmagazine.net/columns/ps-qs/stereotypes-by-state.html

While Istanbul is my home and my life is full of wonder and richness. There are some things I miss from my life in the states.

In no particular order, here they are:

1.) Seeing the stars at night
2.) Seattle’s coffee obsession and the numerous funky cafes devoted to this coffee culture (and addiction;)
3.) The numerous and overwhelming options at a grocery store
4.) Living somewhere where you can run, walk and bicycle freely with good company
5.) House parties, potlucks and other inexpensive and easy ways to surround yourself with good friends in an intimate setting  Read the rest of this entry

Some things I miss from my life in the states…

Why I hate being sick in Istanbul…

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One of the unfortunate results of teaching 5-year olds is the constant sickness that comes with the elementary school environment. During my first winter in Turkey I was sick every week with a different ailment. I was even lucky enough to bond with my future mother-in-law when we both caught the swine flu at the same time. While my immune system continues to grow stronger and more able to fight every variation of the flu and the common cold, I have also adopted a strict regiment of vitamins to ensure I am not constantly ill. However, it is not entirely avoidable. This week, I was reminded of this the hard way. Out of necessity, I spent my birthday and the day that followed it sick in bed. While everyone hates being sick, there are some more reasons to despise this miserable condition in Istanbul.

1.) There is not an emphasis on preventative medicine. Thus, you cannot stay home to ‘nip it in the bud’, you must be deathly ill to rationalize staying home from work. Unfortunately, this means sick colleagues, as well as sick children are potential carries of disease.

2.) If you do elect to stay home, you must call your boss at 7 AM to inform them of your grave condition. This is a call everyone fears, especially because it is a call everyone is discouraged to make.

3.) If you are sick, you must go to the doctor and get a doctor’s note to prove that you were ill. Thus, you must get out of bed (when bed rest is often the best cure), force yourself to go out into the chaos of the city and descend into the cest pool of public transportation as you attempt to secure the proper paperwork. It is often easier to simply go to work…

4.) There are not general health practitioners or local clinics in Istanbul. There are public hospitals which are very inexpensive, but require fluent Turkish (or a lot of humility) and a full-day to maneuver. Instead, I go to the private hospital Aci Badem which resembles a 5-star hotel. To use these facilities, you must call the hospital operator and arrange an appointment with a specific doctor, within a specific department. With a simple cold and cough, you must arrange an appointment with someone who specializes in Internal Medicine. The appointment itself usually takes less than 15 minutes, but costs more than 100 lira because you are paying an expert to diagnose you with the cold or flu you already know you have.

5.) The obvious: At your most vulnerable state, you miss the comforts of home the most. I crave a Winter Elixer from Blackbird Bakery, Chicken Noodle Soup and the eclectic mix of Celestial Seasoning teas. The child in me misses the sick beds my mom would prepare in front of the television, and the familiar sounds and smells of home.

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First of all, the illusions of sipping champagne and basking in bridal camaraderie as you wait for your ‘aha’ moment seem to be a complete and absolute myth. I do not know where these images come from, (perhaps Hollywood chickflicks are the most likely culprit), but they could not be further from the experience I had. However, I will also acknowledge that New York City was perhaps not exactly the best place to escape the bridal princess syndrome that rages in Istanbul.

Exhibit A: The Bridal Boutique at THE Macy’s of Manhattan (which claims to be the largest department store in the world and takes up an entire city block). I saw dresses that would not fit into a car, let alone a closet. I saw corsets, I saw sparkles, I saw sequins and bling of every kind. The Jewish American princesses of the world were well-represented, as were their mothers, grandmothers and everyone else with a formal or informal role in the wedding. Within 5 minutes I had to leave. The bright lights, beads and sequins were too much for me to stomach.

Now, to the process as a whole. Appointments are made and must be kept for anyone to give you the time of day. They are limited to an hour, and while that time is satisfactory to try on the handful of dresses that are flattering for your body shape, and within your budget, you feel like your fate has been sealed and every employee has decided whether you would be a real client or not by the time the session comes to a close.

The search: We went to every type of shop imaginable. The special bridal collection hidden in the back of a boutique in SoHo, the overpriced and make-up stained J Crew collection, and several cute boutiques that serve as a refuge from the cheap fabrics, and mechanized, emotionless ways of David’s Bridal. We went to 5 shops in total, in just 3 days. Apparently, my plan to find a dress in this amount of time was a little ambitious. Many brides spend months simply focused on finding the right dress. My search was that much more complicated because I was hoping to find the perfect dress for two very different weddings. I needed something that I could dress-up and bedazzle for our Istanbul wedding, and dress down for the free-spirited island wedding of my dreams. Additionally, it turns out that it often take 5 months to make the dress, and then several visits to a tailor to ensure that it fits. This was all new information to me.

Two special New York Bridal paradises and boutiques:

Lovely, hidden in a quiet street walking distance from Union Square, this boutique has every type of dress for anyone who envisions a truly extraordinary and unique dress. It’s style appealed to my romantic and vintage tastes, and the staff was warm and unaffected from the Wedding Industrial Complex. We ate sushi on a rainy New York day, and then spent a wonderful hour playing dress-up at Lovely. It was very fun.

Saja, a small wedding boutique for the free-spirited bride who wants something special, but off-the-beaten path. The store itself claims to be a refuge for the `modern, etherial and non-traditional` bride. All of the dresses have beautiful details and light, flowy fabric. I felt like a greek goddess in each and every dress. While it took me 3 visits to finalize and clarify my selection, this was where I bought THE dress.

THE dress: It is beautiful and simple. It is elegant and flattering. It flows and is perfectly my style. It has a beautiful back, a plunging neckline and falls to the floor. I will be myself on my wedding day(s). I will feel free, and I know I will be able to dance. I am excited.

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Wedding Dress Shopping in New York

Happy New Year!!

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2011 proved to be a year of exciting year, and obviously 2012 appears to have a lot in store for us as well…

Some highlights of 2011:

Our trip to Rome and seeing the Colloseum in all of its glory

Caglayan’s perfect proposal, and the excitement of the wedding(s) and the celebrations ahead

Dancing into the night at the weddings of two of my closest friends in Istanbul

Returning to London to see and reconnect with old friends, and rediscover one of my favorite cities…

Exploring Croatia and its beautiful islands, and walking Dubrovnik’s city walls at sunset

Our glamorous end of school event at a Ottoman mansion along the Bosphorous: my friends were the first and the last people on the dance floor

Spending 4 days in beautiful Cappadocia, surrounded by the fairy chimneys of the region…and a hot air balloon ride!

Returning to Bodrum for the third time to celebrate Seker Bayram and explore the beautiful beaches and ruins of the region

Sharing our apartment with friends and guests

The picnic my students and their families held for my partner teacher and I at the end of the school year

Celebrating my birthday with all of the wonderful friends I have made in Istanbul

Spending several days introducing Caglayan to the magic of the Pacific Northwest, and some of my favorite people in  the whole world….

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Some things to look forward to in 2012:

A trip to New York City to search for the perfect wedding dress

Visiting friends in Paris

Hosting friends and family in Turkey this summer for our Turkish wedding celebration…perhaps in Bodrum?!

Turkish Lessons…yes it is finally time

2-3 months to travel…perhaps Thailand or Mexico?!

Perhaps a trip to Barcelona and/or Amsterdam

Marrying my soul mate, best friend and loving partner, and being able to start our life together in the U.S.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it pains me to be away from home for the third year in a row.  I love every dish, but more than anything, the joy, traditions and festivities that surround this special holiday. I miss friends and family, the laughter and the stories, the surprises and the excitement.

I also have so much to be thankful for…

The top 5:

1.) The love and support of my wonderful friends and family in Istanbul.  My boyfriend came home with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in honor of Teacher’s Day. My co-workers greet me every morning with hugs and kisses. My Turkish family wants to host a special holiday dinner for me.  We have established a special Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition of our own with our closest friends in Istanbul.

2.) My ability to travel and see the world! Currently, I am planning a trip to Vienna, Prague and Paris!

3.) The support and encouragement of my friends at home.

4.) My health and the health of everyone I love.

5.) Endless opportunities and options to consider as I brainstorm the upcoming year and my next endeavor…

 

A Walk Through My Old Neighborhood…

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Our first neighborhood flourished in the shadows of the Istanbul’s Trump Towers. It remained relatively untouched from the business district that developed around it. The neighborhood is called Gulbag  (pronounced Gool-bah). Its residents vary from families and university students, to recent African refugees.  There are two large mosques and two public schools in this small neighborhood. On week days you can hear the school bells throughout the day (the same tune of the ice cream truck from my childhood). Five times a day, the mosques in the area would broadcast their call to prayer, a few seconds before or after the others in the neighborhood.

 I was the first foreigner many of the store owners had ever met, and often was the first person they had ever heard speak their own native tongue. I developed relationships with my favorite vendors in the neighborhood by dispensing daily greetings and pleasantries. One shopkeeper would always give me small treats when he ran into me at the end of a long day. It was in these exchanges where I practiced and developed my Turkish, and began to feel a part of the community where I resided. In the 15 minute walk that led to the metro from our apartment, we would walk through the three bustling commercial streets. On these three streets, anything and everything could be found at some of the cheapest prices in Istanbul.

We observed a lot of development in the neighborhood during the two years that we lived there. New modern apartments were built, an office building opened, a park was renovated and the roads were widened. The face of Gulbag changed during this time, and will probably continue to do so as the city develops around it. These are some of the first pictures that I took in the neighborhood in October 2009 in my effort to capture the Gulbag we knew as home.

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