Tag Archives: Reflections


Dearest Readers,

2013 has proven to be a year of exciting transitions and new beginnings. Istanbul was my home, my stomping grounds and adventure-base for almost 4 years. The city’s dynamic energy was thrilling and overwhelming, inspiring and exhausting. It is certainly one of my favorite places in the world and will always be somewhere I call ‘home’.

I miss the accordion man that walked through our street every Sunday morning. I miss the lemon cart and the old grandmothers who  yelled, chatted, smiled and strolled as they passed through the web of city streets. I miss the cats at every turn. I miss passing four grocery stores on my way home. I miss knowing I can jump on the bus or metro in a matter of minutes and get almost anywhere in the city. I miss the music pouring out of the Taksim bars. I miss when the streets are so full you can hardly walk. I miss the sparkling Bosphorus, where boats of all sizes travel in all directions. I miss constantly being exposed to new words, flavors, music and experiences. And, of course I miss my Istanbul friends and family.

Where am I now?! I am currently on Bainbridge Island, outside of Seattle, back on American soil. It is a place where you can hear the birds chirping, walk along the beach without seeing another soul and occasionally, if you are really lucky, you will see beautiful Mount Rainier. It is a place where everyone wants to know your story (and most people already do). Everyone makes eye contact with one another and it is expected for you to say hello (with a smile) to every stranger you pass. Small town life is charming in its quirks and serenity.

There has been significant culture shock. It  took me 3 weeks to muster the courage to enter a grocery store. It boggles my mind that there can be entire aisles of salad dressing and cereal. I still stand on the right side of an escalator. I am learning to tip 20 percent after every meal. I cannot hear (or see) my neighbors. The streets of Seattle seem so empty, even at the height of commuter hours.

In some ways life seems to have slowed down. We sleep in every day. The stress of work is absent from my life. I am surrounded by the comfort, love and support of family. However, I am constantly reminded that time never stops. Everyone I know has big, busy and full lives that have changed so much since my original departure. It is fun to get to know my closest friends in new ways and see how everyone has grown-up and started their own unique path towards the life they want to live.

What am I doing?! Exploring my options, networking, dreaming big and daydreaming about my next adventures (and blog). I am toying with the idea of careers in international education, public relations, public affairs, higher education and even writing. I am currently working on a book to ensure my adventures and experiences outlive the blur of my memories. I am considering my options for a blog about the social, economic, cultural realities of the Millennial generation I find myself to be a member of. I am trying to tame my wanderlust to imagine myself staying in one place long enough to establish real roots. I miss Istanbul and the exciting world I left behind, but I am also thrilled to imagine all the possibilities that await me.

Stay tuned for future posts and updates!

From Seattle with love…


From Istanbul to Seattle

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…


It has been three years since I first moved to Istanbul, and during this time Istanbul has become my home. In the most surprising and silly of ways I have adopted numerous Turkish traits, here are some of them:

1.) I will not enter a house with my shoes on

2.) I have no restraint when my phone rings during a meal… I must answer it.

3.) Everything can be improved with more olive oil, salt, paprika flakes or thyme.

4.) Plans can change en route, and I am ok with that.

5.) I have accepted that work schedules are unpredictable beasts. This includes late evenings and weekends. Read the rest of this entry

Turkish Traits of my Own


This morning I had to pinch myself. Is this my life?! As I sipped my morning coffee, our neighborhood accordian player wandered the streets below, and music filled the air. Last night, as we roamed through Taksim after a romantic dinner at our favorite restaurant, we stumbled upon a dance festival, we saw a cat march confidently into a restaurant waiting to be served, observed a capuchin monkey walk down Istiklal Cadessi, and after returning home and opening a bottle of wine, we watched a 10 minute firework show from our apartment window. Life is good! And sometimes, full of so many wonderful, humourous and thrilling surprises!

The Bizarre Pleasures of Life in Istanbul


The friendly American in me struggled with this seemingly bizarre fact: Turks do not smile.  Growing up in a small town, I was trained to make eye-contact and smile at everyone I pass. However, when I moved to Istanbul, I quickly learned that this only brought unwanted attention from men, and skeptical looks from women. It boggled my mind, how could a country with such an emphasis on hospitality,  with such deep bonds between friends and family, be so closed-off to the people they encounter on the streets? Well, a recent op-ed piece in the Turkish Daily News attempts to explain this mystery. He asserts the following:

1.) “Turkey is a ‘transitional society’, one that is in the critical middle of a long transformation from a traditional (rural, agrarian and communal) to a modern (urban) nation. So, traditional mores are eroding, whereas new ones are not fully matured”

2.) The political climate is incredibly divisive and promotes significant levels of distrust between parties, people and government as a whole. This distrust spreads to the unfamiliar. Problems within the country are blamed on “enemies within and without”. In the absence of a true democracy, there is a lack of openness.

2.) Despite the rapid urbanization of Turkey, Turks still identify their hometown as their father’s place of birth. Very few people are from Istanbul, however this growing metropolis has become home to a diverse group of people from all over the country. In a ‘colossal city’ like Istanbul, there are too much that is unknown and unfamiliar. You no longer know or trust your neighbor. These neighborhood and local bonds are no longer relevant or possible in large urban environments.

While this is not necessarily unique to Turkey, it is interesting to contemplate how the political climate impacts social bonds and interactions in a place I call ‘home’.

istiklal caddesi

The Significance of a Smile


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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wedding Dress Shopping in New York

Happy New Year!!


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….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.