Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On a Sunday

Sunday walks are my favorite walks. I love walking on any day of the week, but particularly on Sundays. People seem friendlier. Yards look better kept. Cars drive slower. Dogs bark softer. I'm fully prepared to accept the fact that all of this is in my mind. It's as though everyone in the city, myself included, has gotten the questionable stuff out of their system over the weekend and is thinking about the week ahead as they water their gardens or watch their kids play or chat with their neighbor or heat up the coals, and have no time to give much thought to the strange lady walking alone at sunset down the sidewalk. As though we all - both them and me - believe that no harm can come to us on a Sunday. Maybe it's a remnant of my days in Sunday school surfacing, giving me a false sense of security on the holy day. Every other day of the week, I wish I had a more obvious reason for walking. A dog. A bag of groceries. A flashy camera. A casserole to deliver. Anything to answer the questions that I imagine arising in the minds and the eyes around me. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I feel like I'm slightly somehow inadvertently propositioning every thing that I walk by. I sense sideways glances and pauses in low-toned weekend-business discussions. Like I, despite my calm appearance, could potentially do or say something to get the party started at any second. Or maybe they just need to say something to me, then I'll get the party started. I scurry past each person, each group, purposeful and with a set jaw, till I'm well out of party-starting range. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I feel kind of creepy when I walk. Like parents get one look at me and call their kids in for dinner, in where it's safe from the strange lady walking down the street alone. Dogs don't seem to trust me on those days, either. Trotting away with their ears low, ready to nip at the weirdo who just wants to give them a pat. Neighbors watch me walk by, noticing my resemblance to the menacing character on the "neighborhood watch" signs posted all over the place, the one with the pointy black hat and cape and a large red X over it. I've always wondered how those signs work. Do people in a neighborhood really get together and say to each other "let's watch out for one another and show those bad guys they can't mess with any of us...'cause if they mess with one neighbor, they mess with the whole neighborhood!" and then they cheer and hoist their signs high in the air and go around, together as neighbors, and plant those signs. Frightening the bad guys and the strange ladies. I hope that's how they work. I feel none of these hidden, and probably mostly imagined, thoughts from people on a Sunday. All I sense from people on a Sunday, if I sense anything at all, is "I hope nothing bad happens to that nice lady walking down the street alone." That's all I sense in the smiles, nods, waves, and good evenings. Enough to make a strange lady's heart soar and to make walking every day of the week worth it.            

Monday, June 23, 2014


For a while, I was pretty sure I was moving back home this summer and not renewing my contract, as many of my posts on here might have indicated. What a roller coaster. One week, I was in love with Turkey, the next I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch beside my mom and never leave again. One day, I told my boss that I wouldn't be back next year. A couple days later, I told him that I changed my mind and would like to stay. And both times when I spoke with him, I was sure of what I was saying. Sure of my decision. Luckily, I haven't felt the strong urge to change my mind again, even now that I've been back in Reno for a few days, reconnecting with friends, reestablishing my role as a family member, reacquainting myself with a place that will always feel like home. Home, home. I know that at the end of the summer, I'll be returning to Turkey for another year. And I'm pretty sure I'll be looking forward to it.

The thing is, I'm always going to miss my family and Reno. I'm always going to miss my grad school cohort. I'm always going to miss my PC Romania friends and my old high school drama buddies. I'm never going to live those lives again. They're gone. If I tried to move back to and recreate any past time of happiness, it would never feel the same. I imagine it would only feel hollow and superficial. I do, at times, really miss my old self and the person I was in those places. I'm not wildly different depending on where I am, but I feel like there's some inner glow that I just don't or didn't feel in certain places and stages of my life. Glow is a cheesy word, but I can't think of any other word to describe it. I didn't feel glowy in China. At all. And I didn't feel it much when I was in Eugene, either. It's a certain self-confidence and contentedness that makes me not question and dissect everything I do. It makes me laugh more. It makes me happier. I don't understand fully what that inner glow depends on, but it doesn't feel as bright as I'd like it to in Turkey. And that's part of why I think I want to stay. What is it that I'm lacking there that I had elsewhere, where the glow was more solid? Can I create it on my own, anywhere? Does it mean I need a new hobby? I need more people? Closer people? More sleep? Better Turkish? A bigger piano? A different job? Stronger coffee? I want to figure this glow thing out and see if I can master it. Master myself. My thoughts and my own happiness. I know that it is, mostly, all up to me, but jeez what a big task. Making myself happy. It's easier to blame outside things - mean people, a bad job, a crappy apartment. But those are all things that I am in control of and can change. I can choose and adjust the adjectives that go with those nouns. There's no reason for me to be unhappy and unglowy in Turkey. So, my task for next year is to dissect life piece by piece and find the pieces that bring about the most significant amount of glowiness and cultivate them. Preserve them in a jam jar. Maybe I'll even make a pie chart or a graph or something displaying the results of my dissecting. Or just a pie. Pie is pretty glowy.              

Saturday, May 31, 2014

So they say

Somebody made fun of me. Without humor, in front of me, hoping I wouldn't notice. Later, I went for a walk and let a sorrow that I haven't felt for a long time roll around and scrape at my guts. It must have been laundry day because most balconies had clothes hanging, swaying in the breeze. The chests of the shirts puffed up as they breathed in the breeze and shrunk as they breathed out. The skirts fluttered. I think about stupidity sometimes, especially when I walk. About my own stupidity and the various ways it comes out. No, I don't think I'm stupid. Somewhere a while back, I talked about the ways that I'm dumb. It's not in all ways, just in some ways. I say dumb things a lot. I'm comfortable with having my dumb moments. They might bother other people, but I don't mind them. In some ways, I like them. They make up part of who I am. As I walked, I saw a woman holding her full grown golden retriever like a baby while the neighborhood kids gathered around and reached to touch its fur. When she put him back down, he immediately rolled onto his back and pawed at the sky so the kids would have easy belly-rubbing access. In the background, the dark grey clouds in the sky brought out the purple in the flowering trees and made them look electric. Like big purple light bulbs against a grey ceiling. Little pockets of beauty to make me feel better. That's when I realized that everyone is dumb. In some ways, in at least one way, everyone is dumb. Everyone. No one can be good and smart and gifted at everything. I'm dumb at talking. Big deal. Anyone who focuses on that, on the dumbness of the people around them, is dumb at empathy. And that's okay. We've all got our weaknesses, our dumbness. I rounded a corner and nearly ran into two young girls, maybe 10-ish. One was grinning menacingly while pushing the other, struggling and near tears, towards a group of boys playing soccer. I wanted to stop them and tell them that it'll be okay. That they'll grow out of this. Some day down the road, they'll grow out of this. Or so they say.
But I kept walking.      

Saturday, May 24, 2014

I don't care.

There are lots of things that I don't care about any more. Things that I used to, at least mildly, care about, and recently realized that I just don't anymore. And kinda don't want to care about. Things like being knowledgeable, seeming intelligent, being described as "well read" or "articulate". Talking about interesting things for the sake of talking about interesting things. Being interesting. Anything related to how others perceive me, I guess. Fitting anyone else's definition of cool or popular or entertaining or witty or great. I don't care. Maybe it's age? Maturity? It's not that I want to be lame or boring - I just don't care anymore if that's what I am to somebody else. It seems as of late all I care about being is my own definition of a good person. It's kind of nice to have that one simple thing as a guide to being me instead of all those other things that people want me, and everyone, to be. Each person wants everyone else to fall into some sort of category they've created in their head. We make up our own definition of cool, of interesting, of boring and then apply that definition to everyone we meet. The thing that has always kinda bothered me about me is that I try to match everyone else's definition of cool as I get to know them. I lose track of my own definition. At least I used to. And now I just don't care. Everyone at the dinner table might be talking about ___________ and how great of a book/movie/tv show/animal/place/thing it is and I'm kinda suddenly totally okay with having absolutely nothing to say. Three or four or even two years ago, that would not have been the case.

This is all I care about:
Finding the positive in every person/place/thing and letting that be their defining feature. Shrugging off the negative, as much as possible. Interacting with the understanding that everyone is full of dreams and despair at the same time - including me, including you, including the people that nobody likes - regardless of the face each of us tries to show to the world. Loving and fearing and respecting the fact that each person, each brain, is a complex, convoluted world of its own and I'm never really going to understand anyone else. And no one is ever going to really understand me. And remembering that it's all going to be okay, in the end. Because lots of stuff matters to each individual person, but nothing really does actually matter. To everything. To most things. In the entire history of time, in the entire expanse of the universe, not one single thing that happens in anyone's life matters. At all. I find that comforting, somehow.              

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Current Dilemma

I can't decide which size bottle of contact solution to buy. Do I go with the super-sized bottle, which would last me months and would be impractical to pack for trips and is really only meant to be bought by someone who is staying in one place for a while. Someone who is content enough with their situation to renew their teaching contract for another year and store their contact solution on its own shelf in their admittedly spacious bathroom. Or do I go with the petite bottle, which is meant to be bought by people prone to moving, people who need a bottle that can go on airplanes and not weigh them down. A bottle that would fit in the tiniest of unknown bathrooms and would last a little over a month, just enough time to finish out my teaching contract and get me back home to America. By my estimates, I've got about 5 days till my current bottle runs dry...5 more days to decide which size bottle to buy. Oof.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where is my mind?

Normally, I wouldn't put a piano song here that I didn't come up with, but I've been a little bit obsessed with this one, and this question, lately. I've been working on it over the past 3 months and it has replaced Yann Tiersen's Comptine d'un autre ete and La dispute as the first AND last songs that I play whenever I sit down at the keyboard. And those two have been my favorites for YEARS. I always feel weird and show-offy putting songs on here, but I don't know. It's my blog...a place where I put thoughts and things that occupy my mind, and this is definitely one of them as of late.

As for where my mind is, I think it has fragmented into two and a half minds. One that has traveled into the past and sits nostalgically in the memories of being at the brink of this wandering life, before I ditched all my friendships and family for the sake of excitement, newness, and seeming brave and unique; one that has traveled into the future and dreams up all the other realities I could have, mostly involving a golden retriever named Ashby who'll read books with me and help me dig holes in my garden, waiting patiently for me to return from my slightly boring day job to go on a nice long adventure walk around my quaint city, dotted with local, dog-friendly coffee shops and friends; and the remaining little half lives here, in Antalya, trying to figure out what's up with the other two bigger and kinda obnoxious minds. Striving for rationality, shooing away distractions, and seeking out common ground from all of my minds. Good luck, little guy.

That's where my mind goes when I play this song. 
If you've listened to the Pixies, I'm hoping you'll at least sorta recognize it. It's written by Frank Black, arranged for piano by Maxence Cyrin. Again, forgive the emotionless, tinny quality of my keyboard. I can't wait to play this on a real thing, with a sustain pedal AND weighted keys. Woah.

**(24 June 2014) I've replaced the emotionless version with one played on a more expressive, but still electronic, piano. It's not perfect, but I don't really want it to be.     


Friday, April 25, 2014


Dear Erin,
It is my pleasure to offer you a summer internship with the TOEFL Speaking program in English Language Learning. The TOEFL Speaking team looks forward to your participation this summer.

Me, too, TOEFL Speaking team. Me, too.