Sunday, November 1, 2015


For Halloween, I wore a brown sweater, brown slacks, and brown shoes. I was a stick in the mud. I thought it was dumb and funny and I had hoped my friends would think so, too. I'm a stick in the mud! I was going to say whenever anyone asked what I was. Well, not really a stick. More like a thick branch. A log. I'm a log in the mud, haha, I would say. And these are mud puddles. Here, try one! I'd say, smiling and lifting the pan of peanut butter cups I had brought along. That's what I imagined would happen. I had it all worked out. And I know things never go how I imagine, I know people have their own ideas, their own plans. I've learned never to expect what I imagine. In fact, it's weird when it does all go as imagined. Like some kind of fake 50's era sitcom. That's my imagination. But I'm stunned by how well my costume suited me last night. And nobody ever asked or ever knew what I was dressed up as, they just know what I already am. I was sitting in my own apartment by 9pm, sleeping by 11. For irony's sake, I wish I could say "sleeping like a log, haha," but I can't. Because I never sleep like a log. More like a stick. A flimsy little twig, flailing in the wind, struggling against the bigger branches. Waiting for the pruners to come set it free.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

All over the world

I've been thinking about next year a lot. About what to do. And whenever I do, a subtle throbbing swells up in my chest. It makes it just a touch harder to breath. Because no matter what I choose to do next year, it's going to hurt some. The worst part about living the way that I do is leaving. It's always there, hanging over my head, occupying some small corner of my mind. Some day, I'll have to leave this place and these people. And that thought hurts, especially knowing me and how bad I am at staying in touch. Especially knowing how easy it is, over time, for everyone to move on and slowly forget who we were while we were there, in a place, together. The comfort of good memories fade until you're eventually nearly strangers again. I think that's the saddest part. Being so closely connected to a tiny, unexpected part of the world for a while, making a life there with friends and hobbies and knowing the best places to walk and eat, feeling like you belong, at least a little bit, there. And then it's time to go, time to move on, and once you leave, the magic of you living in that place will never exist again. At least it hasn't for me. And it's sad to know that that time for Turkey is approaching.

Even if I were to decide to stay in Antalya for a fourth year, it would still hurt some, as it does every year that I choose not to move home. One of the hardest parts of leaving Reno 8 years ago was leaving my then 4 and 5 year old brothers. I knew I'd miss a lot of their childhood, but I had no idea just how much I'd miss. I figured I'd be gone for 2 years, then I'd roll right back into their lives like nothing happened. But it's 8 years later and for the first time today, TJ asked me over skype "So what have you been up to?" Prior to tonight, he had never asked me a question, he just made faces at himself on skype while minimally answering all my stupid questions, like any little kid would do. But tonight he asked me a question and it led to a conversation and if we're having conversations that means he's not really a little kid anymore. Then he went and picked up his ukulele and strummed out Over the Rainbow for me, and I've missed too much. We're not practically strangers, but I've missed too much.

And my mom moved to Las Vegas just this weekend and Reno will never quite feel like home again and I wasn't there to help her or even to pack up my own stuff that she's been keeping for me for the past eight years. Big things are happening in the lives of everyone I know and love and I'm never there to be a part of it. I'm just gradually becoming more and more of a stranger to more and more people all over the world.

And this is turning in to a weird, depressing, disjointed novel so I'm gonna go to bed.           

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Graveyard.

There's a large graveyard in the center of Antalya, very close to where the new school is. I often go there over my lunch break. It's the quietest, calmest place within a mile or two. All of the graves face the same direction, towards Mecca. Some of them are fairly new. Many of them are quite old. A few of them are very small, and most of them are above ground. I go there and watch the trees sway and listen to the call to prayer and leave bread crumbs for the birds and pet the stray cats and walk among the stones and think about their names and dates. It doesn't bother me as much as it does some of my work friends. The place is almost deserted. I walk and I breathe and I imagine the stones and the sidewalks and the layers of earth slowly crumbling away, until all that remains are the bones and me. My future and their past. All in one place, all hopefully at peace. At least for a few minutes.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I came back.

I came back. Over a year ago, I wanted to leave Turkey and stay gone. But then I wanted to stay and stay a while, so I came back for another year. And then came back again. So I'm here. And here for a while. But what I thought would take at least a year to figure out somehow, sadly, strangely took three weeks. And I'm left wondering if I really am different. And I'm left wondering if it would have been better to have stayed gone and always wonder what could have been. Or is it better to know and mourn and feel so sad about the way the world and the people on it, myself included, work. I don't work well. As a human, I don't work well. I am quiet. I am weak. I am proud.
Designed to be alone, selfish woman. You were designed to be alone.  

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


I had a dream that every time I blinked, a day would whirl by, so that I would flash forward to a random moment the next day. Washing dishes at the kitchen sink with Ira Flatow introducing his show in the background - blink - walking carefully up the stairs at work with my full coffee cup in my hand the next day - blink - laughing about puns with my team mates in our tiny office the next day - blink - opening the door to the gym and holding it for the stream of sweaty people leaving the next day - blink. All of these days went by in less than a minute. By the time I woke up, I was 70. Every baby I had met had become a parent. Every animal I had known had died. Every war I had heard of had been won. Or lost. Or ceased to be fought. And I had been there for mere seconds of it. A ghost flashing through picture frames, floating in space, fading into backgrounds.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Made Up Memory

Somehow I've reached a point where it's hard to believe that I used to be a little kid. A baby. I used to scream and cry in public and people didn't mind, they accepted it. I used to stare at things for forever and eat dirt and crawl around on the ground and everyone thought it was cute. I used to know nothing and added only goofy sounds to conversations and people thought it was normal. My mom used to cradle me in her arms and feed me and sing to me. My dad used to hold my hand and help me open Christmas presents and put the toys together. My sister used to teach me games and build forts with me and protect me from the monsters. They all protected me. I used to have people who kept me alive, and I don't really remember any of it.

None of the memories are bright and crisp enough to seem real, though I feel like they happened. Even when I see pictures of myself as a little kid, the smiling or crying or curious little face looks like a stranger, a friend's baby, somebody else being held by my young mother. Not me. But I know that it is me. That it was me. Pictures don't lie. That moment really happened, whether I can remember it or not. Pictures do strange things to the mind. Or does everyone feel this way and I'm just now getting weirded out by it?

In fact, some of the memories that stick out the most from when I was little are the silly little scenarios I day-dreamed up, the ones that never actually happened. Like going for a walk and imagining I was a giant, stomping through forests and skipping over mountains. Or imagining long, emotional conversations with my cat. I remember those memories, those day dream conversations, quite clearly. But where have the real memories gone? They must be there somewhere. Does my brain value make-believe more than reality, and has therefore clung to the moments it once wished would happen, while ignoring the ones that did?

And does this mean that in another 30 odd years, when I'm wrinkly and gray and slowing down even more, wanting to retire and rest, the memories I'll recall of these days will be mostly the meaningless, made up conversations I have in my head, and the random dreams I envision for myself all the time? Will the memories not include the real world swirling about outside, the real people moving and breathing around me, the real stories unfolding, of life and death and love and hate? Will it all be lost on me? It's sad to think that I'll be living in a world of memories that never happened, unable to recall the actual life that I led, or the real conversations that I had, or the wonderful people that I loved, and that perhaps loved me, too. The real people that I loved, but never quite understood. Never quite got to know... because it's difficult and a little bit terrifying to try and comprehend a life story your brain didn't invent on its own.    

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ways to Worry

Everywhere I live, I learn new things. About myself, about people, about nature, about history and the world. Things that I wouldn't learn if I stayed in one place for a long time. That's a big part of why I like living abroad, even though I know that other parts of my life, like deep-rooted long term friendships, tend to suffer from constantly moving. Most of the things I learn, I sort of expect to learn, like the basic history, aspects of the language, the customs and traditions. Although those things are interesting, I'm rarely surprised when I learn them. But other things are unexpected. Surprises. And those are the things that usually mean the most and change how I see the world.

In China, I learned that I needed to see full blown sunlight that casts shadows and brings the leaves in trees to life once in a while in order to feel happy. And that I needed to live somewhere where I wouldn't be the awkward center of attention each time I stepped outside. In Romania I learned that I liked to teach and that it's really, really hard to learn a new language and that it's not as easy to change who I am as I thought, but that people still like me anyways. In Flagstaff I learned how to work and study hard, almost constantly, and I learned that I needed to be cautious of people even if I trust them.

And here, in Turkey, I'm learning new ways to worry. It's in my nature to worry, I think. If there's something to worry about - cars sliding around on the icy roads my mom takes to work, the highest tree limbs my brothers climb also being the weakest, reckless drivers unknowingly speeding towards my family and friends on their bikes, a hidden disease waiting for the right moment to reveal itself, students disliking my class and not learning - I'll worry about it. All of the worrying I've done in my life before Turkey seemed pretty average - worrying about the basic well-being of my loved ones and myself being affected by regular, day to day living. But here, I've found new things to worry about.

Before living here, I never worried much about war. I thought about it, but I never worried about it. It was a terrifying, abstract, and distant concept. I never worried about my own country, my own government being at least partly responsible for the death of my friends' families. A few of the teachers who started this year are from places that appear daily in the news. Ukraine and Syria. And they've become some of my closest, dearest friends. And despite their light, despite their humor and positive energy, their countries are being torn apart, piece by piece. And their families are still there. And my government is supplying the weapons that might one day be aimed at them. And that feels terrible.

It's a worry combined with guilt. I worry that my friends' families might die, but on top of that, it might be by my own government's doing. My own country. Our big weapons and our huge military and our need to meddle with the rest of the world so that we, in our little comfortable bubble, can feel secure. So that we can spread the values we see as right and most important to the rest of the world. And none of us really knows or understands what's going on out there. All in the name of democracy and human rights. Right? And yes, I know that it's not all our fault. I know that while taking, we are also saving some lives. I know that lives might be taken if we don't get involved. But every time I read about the US supplying weapons to either of those countries, I imagine them being aimed at my friends' families. Because in the history of weapons and war, that's what happens.

I don't mean to sound anti-government or anti-war or anti-anything. I can't think about things in categories anymore. It's a world. We're all people, animals. And we are sometimes wonderful, and we are sometimes horrible. But somehow we've made it much more complicated than that. So I'm talking about things that I don't understand. Politics and history. Things that confuse me. Because I also love my country. It will always be home. Our diversity, our creativity, our freedom to think and question openly, our ability to accept unusual ideas and outsiders with (mostly) open arms. Our curiosity about the world.

At least those are the things that I used to think made up America. It seems, though, that we only embrace differences and diversity within our own borders, where we can easily control things, while the military quietly works away at getting the rest of the world to act more like us and to respect us. I worry that in the process of trying to do good and trying to protect innocent lives all over the world, which I deeply hope was the underlying intent of all of our decisions, we've gone off track. And we no longer know how to go back and too much is kept secret and too much is corrupt and it's all too complicated to fix, so we just keep digging more holes and making the old ones deeper. I worry about those holes eventually leading to the people that I know and love. By living here, in a country sandwiched between war zones, a country trying to keep to itself while also making room for refugees and doing its best not to get involved, I've learned how to worry about my own country and what, exactly, it is doing in the world.